Background: Significant information is available about government-reimbursed telehealth services such as Medicare and Medicaid across the United States. Although currently 20 states mandate reimbursement for telehealth services and some private insurers have voluntarily covered those services in other states, relatively little is known about telehealth provider experiences with reimbursement from private insurance payers.
Materials and methods: To investigate this, the American Telemedicine Association's (ATA's) Telemental Health Special Interest Group (SIG), the Policy Group, and the Business and Finance SIG, with the help of ATA staff, conducted a national private payer reimbursement online survey in 2012 using Survey Monkey™ (Palo Alto, CA) ( www.surveymonkey.com/ ).
Results: Survey responses were received from respondents in 46 of the 50 states. The survey found that telehealth services are being reimbursed by private payers but that progress in reimbursement has been relatively slow compared with earlier surveys.
Conclusions: Key findings from this study were that government payers as well as several major private payers are highly influential in payment policies for telehealth private payers, that private payers have administrative rules regarding telehealth reimbursement that are barriers to services and reimbursement, and that some providers would benefit from being better informed about billing and coding for telehealth services and how to advocate for telehealth services reimbursement.
Keywords: behavioral health; business administration/economics; policy; telehealth; telemedicine.