Delaware has become the 29th state to require health insurers to pay for telemedicine after the state's governor approved an updated law regulating the virtual healthcare services. But some say the legislation lacks a distinction that could diminish the cost-saving benefits of telehealth.
Democratic Gov. Jack Markell signed legislation defining state regulations surrounding telemedicine and prohibiting insurers from engaging in discriminatory practices against providers who use telemedicine to deliver care.
Mario Gutierrez, executive director of the Sacramento, Calif.-based National Telehealth Policy Resource Center, had some concerns about the law's differentiation between telemedicine and telehealth, the latter being the use of technology for social services, remote patient monitoring and other nonclinical procedures. The regulation is somewhat confusing because it defines telehealth as different from telemedicine, but doesn't appear to offer protections for telehealth tasks, he said. Most states have enacted laws that cover both telemedicine and telehealth, he said.