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Research Letter |

Utilization of Telemedicine Among Rural Medicare Beneficiaries

Ateev Mehrotra, MD1; Anupam B. Jena, MD, PhD1; Alisa B. Busch, MD2; Jeffrey Souza, MA1; Lori Uscher-Pines, PhD3; Bruce E. Landon, MD1
[+] Author Affiliations
1Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
2McLean Hospital, Belmont, Massachusetts
3RAND Corporation, Arlington, Virginia
JAMA. 2016;315(18):2015-2016. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.2186.
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This study describes trends in telemedicine utilization in Medicare from 2004-2013.

Telemedicine may increase access and improve quality, particularly in rural areas.1 Because inadequate reimbursement may limit telemedicine use, 29 states have passed telemedicine parity laws mandating that commercial insurers reimburse telemedicine visits.2 In contrast, Medicare limits telemedicine reimbursement to select live video encounters with the patient at a clinic or facility in a rural area.3 Federal legislation has been proposed to expand Medicare telemedicine coverage. To inform the debate regarding telemedicine expansion, we describe trends in telemedicine utilization in Medicare from 2004-2013.

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Figure.
Rates of Telemedicine Visits per 1000 Rural Medicare Beneficiaries in States With and Without Telemedicine Parity Laws in 2011, 2004-2013a

Error bars indicate 95% CIs.

aThe 12 states with a telemedicine parity law enacted by 2011 were included in the parity law cohort regardless of when the law was enacted. The states are Louisiana (enacted 1995), California (1996), Oklahoma (1997), Texas (1997), Hawaii (1999), Kentucky (2000), Colorado (2001), Georgia (2006), Maine (2009), New Hampshire (2009), Oregon (2009), and Virginia (2010).5

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