Patients in rural parts of the state will now have more access to specialized medical care thanks to a new Vermont law.
The measure was passed by the Legislature this year and just went into effect last month. It requires health insurers to cover telemedicine services to Vermonters.
Telemedicine has been available through Fletcher Allen Health Care since the early 1990s. It involves live interactive audio and video services so doctors can consult, diagnose and even treat patients who live far from the Burlington facility. In the past, it's only been covered by Medicare.
"It's kind of a win-win situation. The hospital can be reimbursed for the services and patients can get the care that they wouldn't get otherwise, so everybody wins in this situation. I think insurers win, too, because if the care is provided early on there's less damage to a patient's body, so it costs less to manage," said Dr. Terry Rabinowitz, the director of telemedicine at Fletcher Allen Health Care.
The bill requires that telemedicine be reimbursed if a person's insurance policy already covers the same service for face-to-face care. Vermont is now one of 14 states requiring the coverage and is one of just three in the Northeast.
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