Another look at virtual care
by jerry on April 25, 2021
Kaiser Health News reported on an organization that specializes in virtual care. Given the surge of telemedicine during the pandemic, this piece takes a look at the relevant question of whether or not virtual visits warrant the same fee structure as in-person visits.
Before the pandemic, telemedicine still had restrictions in a number of states. In some places, for example, a patient's first visit with a physician had to be in-person. Beyond the regulatory restrictions, insurers typically paid less for a virtual visit than an in-person visit. The article talks about some of the differing perspectives on whether that disparity should continue.
On one hand, there is something that feels heftier about in-person visits: providers need to maintain buildings and additional support staff, and those costs should be reflected in payments. Traditionally, one concern has been about telemedicine being more vulnerable to fraud. On the other hand, there are some types of visits where virtual visits can be functionally the same as in-person visits, and there are many who believe that they should be compensated equivalently (in a similar vein to the site-neutrality rules that Medicare has tried to enact). Presumably, this issue will not be going away any time soon.