Telemedicine-(IPR photo)

Today marks the first day Iowa health care providers will no longer be required to get the same reimbursement rates for medically necessary telemedicine visits as they would for in-person visits.

The requirement was part of Gov. Kim Reynolds public health disaster proclamation. Dr. Doug Van Daele, at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, says virtual visits are still being conducted at much higher rates than they were pre-pandemic.

Van Daele says, “I would get emails from people who would say, ‘I didn’t think this telemedicine was going to work,’ but now it’s clear, I’m going to be doing telemedicine long after this pandemic is over, because the patients love it so much.” Van Daele says

UIHC is working with private insurers to make sure patients continue to have telemedicine options. While such virtual visits have gained in popularity, Van Daele says some patients still face barriers to the service.

“I still have a fair number of patients in my practice who still have flip phones and they just simply don’t have broadband at home that they could use with their computer to be able to access it,” he says.

The change in reimbursement rates doesn’t affect mental health visits, which are guaranteed payment parity under a new state law. The change also won’t affect visits covered by Medicare.

(By Natalie Krebs, Iowa Public Radio)