The COVID-19 pandemic caused a monumental shift in how health care is delivered all over the country, but Colorado was already considered a leader in telehealth. By 2015, the state had already enacted legislation demanding telehealth parity – essentially, insurance companies were now required to reimburse telemedicine services at the same rate as face-to-face visits. In 2018, the state reallocated grant funding to expand broadband across the state in an effort to increase access to telehealth services.
When the governor declared a state of emergency due to COVID-19 in early 2020, temporary legislation was quickly passed that allowed even more Coloradans to access the technology. Notably, Medicaid and CHP+:
After the governor’s order on April 1, 2020, the Colorado Division of Insurance (DOI), which regulates the individual insurance and small and large group markets, quickly aligned the commercial market with medicare and Medicaid guidance. Self-funded employer plans, which fall under federal jurisdiction, were strongly encouraged by the DOI to align with the rest of the state.
With many of the emergency orders expiring, it remains to be seen whether Colorado will roll back telehealth mandates or allow those regulations to propel progressive and permanent legislation around telemedicine delivery. Research into telehealth indicates that patients are largely satisfied with the ease and quality of care, and data indicates that it is an effective method for monitoring patients with chronic conditions and delivering psychotherapy services.
Since physicians are held to the same standard of care regardless of whether they are practicing via telehealth or in-person visits, it is recommended that doctors carry insurance that specifically covers telemedicine. If you are unsure, consult with your insurance broker.