Telehealth could slash health-care spending, but it seems like state legislators across the country are working hard to keep prices high. Payment parity laws, which exist in some form in at least 20 states and counting, mandate that in most circumstances insurers reimburse medical professionals at the same rate for both in-person and online health-care services, even though the latter are much less costly to provide. Hospitals and physicians clamor for payment parity, arguing that telehealth infrastructure and provider training represent added costs that need to be covered.
The last thing we should do is peg the price of groundbreaking technological services to some of the most expensive services in the economy. The prices of hospital services have more than tripled in the last 20 years, growing almost four times faster than inflation and faster than any other type of goods or services. Non-hospital medical care services have more than doubled in price.
Telehealth, meanwhile, is demonstrably cheaper to provide than in-person services. In fact, in-person visits last significantly longer than telehealth visits. The telehealth health-care provider doesn’t need to pay rent for office space, employ a large staff or purchase expensive medical equipment and supplies. All that are required are an Internet connection, a streaming device and the secure videoconferencing and other tools provided by a telehealth vendor.