Alaska Mandates Telehealth Coverage

March 26, 2020
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Rick Gawenda
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The state of Alaska has released the following Notice: Notice of the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development announces the issuance of Bulletin 20-07 to insurers regarding changes to telehealth coverage standards that are the result of emergency legislation, effective March 17, 2020.

The new law may be found at: http://www.legis.state.ak.us/basis/start.asp  . Enter the bill number HB29 to find the full text and legislative history of the bill. You may obtain a copy of the bill by contacting the Alaska Legislative Information Office.

Please note that this bill has an IMMEDIATE effective date of 3/17/2020.

The bill revises AS 21.42.422 to expand telehealth coverage to all covered services of health care insurance plans in the individual and group markets subject to Title 21. Services must be provided by a health care provider licensed in Alaska. A prior in-person visit must not be required. Insurers are required to implement the requirements of AS 21.42.422 immediately. The division expects insurers to review their insurance contracts and make the necessary form filings to implement these changes by May 17, 2020 or as soon as practicable. Insurers are reminded of the following:

  • AS 21.07.030 requires that if a health care insurer provides for services through a network, the health care insurer shall also offer a non-network option to covered persons. This requirement is applicable to telehealth. Consumers must be able to access telehealth services from both network and non-network providers.
  • AS 21.42.422 does not require health care providers to use a particular technology platform, such as an insurer’s proprietary software for services to be covered. Health care providers must use a HIPAA compliant service to protect consumer privacy.
  • The statute does not limit the location of services for telehealth. Within reason, if a service is covered when in-person the service should also be covered when performed via telehealth.
  • The federal Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act requires that quantitative and nonquantitative elements must be comparative between medical/surgical and behavioral health services.

Questions relating to this bulletin can be referred to Sarah Bailey, Life and Health Supervisor atsarah.bailey@alaska.gov.

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This article is not intended to and does not serve as legal advice or as consultative services, but is for general information purposes only.

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