Telehealth in New Hampshire
How Healthcare is Changing in New Hampshire
Since the start of the pandemic, healthcare in the United States has seen many new changes. One of these changes includes the actual delivery of healthcare. When shutdowns first began, many “nonessential” services (such as routine physicals) were halted. This sparked a major push towards implementing telehealth services for the continuation of these “nonessential” services.
Telehealth services are defined by the Mayo Clinic as “the use of digital information and technologies, such as computers and mobile devices, to access healthcare services remotely and manage your healthcare”. This allows for patients to continue routine care with their providers from the comforts of their own homes. Even better, appointments can take place via video chat, telephone, or even digital messaging. Besides the obligation to physical distancing and abiding by safety protocols due to the pandemic, telehealth offers lots of benefits to patients.
When appointments are conducted remotely, people have more access to healthcare than ever before. If someone lives in a rural area without reliable transportation, they can now have their annual physical take place via telehealth. The same goes for people with a work schedule that makes it difficult to get into the office during “normal hours”. Or even single parents who have kids to take care of. With telehealth, the provider can meet you where you are via technological services. Additionally, telehealth services can often be more affordable for everyone involved than traditional services.
As great as this sounds, getting insurance companies to reimburse for these services has been a battle since day one. But as of July 23rd, 2020, the state of New Hampshire has permanently extended coverage for telehealth services. The signing of HB 1623 enacted the requirement for Medicaid and private insurance companies to reimburse for telehealth services the same way they would for in-person services. Even better, the bill also made it so healthcare providers no longer need to conduct an initial in-person visit before launching a telehealth plan for a patient. The bill also expanded reimbursements for substance abuse counseling, dietetic counseling, midwives, psychologists, dentists, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and community health services.
The signing of the bill has been remarked as a great stride towards the progress of healthcare delivery in New England and will help give more access to those who normally would not be able to receive routine care. Although there have been may terrible things that have come from the pandemic, this is a win.