With countless New Jersey residents under a stay-at-home order from the Governor to help slow the spread of COVID-19, many people are wondering how they can access their usual health care services without risking infection. Assemblyman John McKeon (D-Essex, Morris) sponsored a bipartisan bill (A-3843) recently signed into law that requires health insurers to cover telehealth and telemedicine services during this public health emergency.
Assemblyman McKeon and Assemblyman Herb Conaway, MD (D-Burlington) released the following joint statement on the subject:
“These are unprecedented times that require each of us to change our usual way of doing things. Non-emergency health care is no exception. In-person visits need to be reduced as much as possible to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.
“Whether offices have chosen to limit face-to-face appointments or patients themselves are requesting remote assistance, many health providers are turning to telehealth and telemedicine at this time. That’s why the bill we passed in January requires health insurers, including Medicaid, to cover these services while New Jersey deals with the existing public health emergency.
“We want to make sure health providers and patients alike understand that health insurance companies must cover everything from mental health services to physical and occupational therapy that can be provided over the phone or internet, as long as the patient’s plan covered the equivalent in-person service before.
“Furthermore, while insurers are required to pay providers the same rate they would have for the in-person equivalent of a service, patients cannot be charged any co-pay or co-insurance for telehealth or telemedicine services at this time, even if they would normally have cost-sharing for that service.
“Understandably, there is a lot of confusion and uncertainty right now as our state adapts to this new normal. We ask everyone to help get the word out about these provisions so residents can receive the care they need remotely without having to worry about coverage.
“Individual, small or large group insurance coverage issues can be directed to the Department of Banking & Insurance at 1-800-446-7467. For complaints about Medicaid coverage issues, call 1-800-356-1561.
“Taking care of our mental and physical health is more important than ever right now. Stay safe and stay healthy, New Jersey.”