The Leaflet: Telemedicine Can Provide Better Health Care at a Lower Cost

Published September 4, 2014

 Telemedicine Can Provide Better Health Care at a Lower Cost

As more people acquire health insurance, the discussion about how to offer better access to care at a reasonable cost becomes ever more pertinent. Telemedicine – the use of information technology in the diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring of patients’ conditions – can radically decrease the costs of health care while increasing access for patients.

Telemedicine is a cost-effective alternative to traditional face-to-face office visits or examinations, particularly for states with large rural populations. Twenty-one states have presented bills to expand access to telemedicine services and nine states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws requiring coverage and reimbursement for telemedicine services be included in their Medicaid programs. Although many individuals believe in the benefits of telemedicine, certain barriers remain in place in various states.

In a recent Heartland Institute Research & CommentaryMatthew Glans writes, “The arduous and often expensive licensing process has made it difficult for entrepreneurs to enter the market with new services, slowing the competitive process that lowers costs and improves consumer access. Credentialing creates another problem; doctors and medical staff have to be credentialed in each hospital they practice in, meaning doctors engaging in telemedicine need credentials for telemedicine at every other hospital they work with.” Additionally, states have different procedures for health reimbursement, and not all states permit payment for certain telemedicine services.

Telemedicine is adding a new element to modern health care by providing health care services to more individuals in need at a lower cost. Instead of erecting regulatory and cost barriers, state legislators should embrace the full potential of this innovative technology. 


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