Austin, TX – The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) recently announced that it is extending a requirement that insurers cover telemedicine services, including mental health visits, at the same rate as in-person visits. An emergency rule in place since March helps doctors across Texas treat their patients and limit the spread of COVID-19.
“This extension will help protect patients and our state’s health-care professionals while maintaining access to care,” said Insurance Commissioner Kent Sullivan.
Under the emergency rule, state-regulated health insurers and health maintenance organizations must:
- Pay in-network health professionals at least the same rate for telemedicine services as for in-person services, including covered mental health services.
- Cover telemedicine services using any platform permitted by state law.
- Not require more documentation for telemedicine services than they require for in-person services.
In March, Governor Greg Abbott suspended a law limiting coverage for medical services and consultations provided by phone. The suspension remains in place and means insurers must pay for covered visits or consultations provided over the phone.
The original emergency rule took effect March 17 and was set to expire July 14. With the extension, the rule will remain in effect through September 12.
State-regulated plans, including those purchased through Healthcare.gov, cover about 15% of the Texas market. The insurance cards for state-regulated plans have either “DOI” (for department of insurance) or “TDI” (Texas Department of Insurance) printed on them.
- TDI emergency rule (PDF)
- TDI FAQ
- Texas Medical Board FAQ on telemedicine, including billing information