Telemedicine continues to gain momentum with insurers

But states take different approaches to regulating virtual doctor visits
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Telemedicine has gained momentum with insurers as they better understand how to use the new services, even as they sometimes face opposition from varied regulations, according to The Business Times.

Some of the country's largest insurers, including Anthem, UnitedHealth and Cigna, are leading the telemedicine trend, but it's also being promoted by smaller insurers, including the New York-based insurance startup Oscar Health, the report said.

Oscar Health is one of more than 20 health plans that works with Teladoc, the largest telemedicine provider in the U.S., and the startup insurer offers telehealth services for free for its 100,000 members. Members can call or use Oscar's website or mobile app to type in their symptoms and receive a call from a physician usually within nine minutes.

Aetna, which also works with Teledoc, plans to offer behavioral health consultations via video, the report said. And next year UnitedHealth Group will partner with companies such as Doctor on Demand, American Well and NowClinic to offer services to employer-sponsored and individual plans.

But not everyone is on board with use of telemedicine to treat patients. The Texas Medical Board tried to prevent Teladoc from providing services in that state, arguing physicians should see patients in person to diagnose their illness and prescribe medications, the report said. But state courts have sided with the telemedicine company.

Other states have increased regulations or not recognized the practice. "Widespread adoption has been limited based on state requirements on how it can be used," Clare Krusing, a representative with America's Health Insurance Plans, told The Business Times. "Each state is approaching it somewhat differently."

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