Lawmakers take first step in determining telehealth service costs

Published: Aug. 8, 2021 at 3:25 AM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Telehealth services became an appealing option to health providers and patients during the height of the pandemic.

Even now that many hospitals have reopened their doors to elective appointments, telehealth seems to be here to stay.

However, pricing now comes into question.

Many insurance companies didn’t know how to price the predominantly unprecedented service.

So now, lawmakers are trying to come up with a fair system for cost.

Meeting with a physician online became commonplace last year. State officials say not much good came out of the pandemic besides the explosion of telehealth services.

“It advanced this type of service possibly ten years into the future, which would’ve taken normal circumstances to just crawl along and get adoption,” said Johnny Palsgraaf with the North Dakota Insurance Department.

Lawmakers and health professionals met at the Capitol to establish telehealth as a “common practice” in order to determine how much patients should be paying.

That’s because the more often a health service is provided, the easier it is to develop a model for payment.

This will also make it easier for those in rural areas to receive care.

“When that patient came into the office, they’d say, ‘yeah I’m 200 miles away.’ Typically, I’d have you come in in two weeks, but because you’re so far and because you can’t get here, if you want to schedule three weeks out, we’ll need to do that,” said University of North Dakota School of Medicine Consultant Marsha Waind.

Lawmakers and policy handlers debated the effectiveness of telehealth and if it was good enough to become a “common practice” for state law.

If it does, rural residents and patients across the state will have easy access to healthcare.

Over the next year, lawmakers will be calling in medical professionals on the effectiveness of telehealth services. Any kind of changes to the law can either come in the form of executive orders, as seen during the pandemic or during the next legislative session.

Many states across the nation have already established telehealth in their laws

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