The authors say that insurers also often face opposition from local clinicians who think telemedicine could replace them, or be used as leverage against them in negotiations over fees.
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Insurers could meet state provider network requirements by covering more telemedicine, making it easier to get access to health care—especially for those living in rural or underserved urban areas.
Through interviews with researchers in six states—Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Texas and Washington—the study finds that insurers generally have not incorporated telemedicine providers into their networks, despite widespread physician shortages in some areas.
The interviewees said that telemedicine could expand access to primary care, as well as specialists including psychiatrists, cardiologists and endocrinologists, but that insurers are more likely to use it as a supplement to, not a replacement for, in-person services.
Insurers are reluctant to use telemedicine to meet state network requirements in part because they do not know how it will be viewed by state regulators.