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Texas Department of Insurance
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March 18, 2020

State takes actions to expand use of telemedicine services

The state is taking steps to expand the use of telemedicine to help doctors across Texas treat their patients and limit the spread of coronavirus COVID-19.

State actions include:

  • The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) filed an emergency rule requiring insurers to pay the same amount for telemedicine services, including covered mental health services, as they do for in-person services. The rule applies to in-network services for state-regulated health plans.
  • Governor Greg Abbott suspended a state law limiting insurance coverage for medical visits and consultations by phone.
  • The Governor approved the Texas Medical Board (TMB)’s request to suspend state rules blocking the use of phone consultations to establish a physician-patient relationship. Before the change, telemedicine services could be provided only after the physician-patient relationship had been established during an in-person visit.

“This will help protect patients and our state’s health-care professionals while maintaining access to care,” said Insurance Commissioner Kent Sullivan. “We expect to see large-employer health plans and others not subject to state rules follow suit.”

TDI’s emergency rules on health insurance payments for telemedicine services took effect March 17.

“As we encourage Texas physicians to use telemedicine to triage and treat patients, they should have peace of mind that we’re eliminating any potential billing issues,” said TMB President Sherif Z. Zaafran, M.D.

State-regulated plans cover about 15% of the Texas market, including plans purchased through Healthcare.gov. The insurance cards for state-regulated plans have either “DOI” (for department of insurance) or “TDI” (Texas Department of Insurance) printed on them.

Governor's news release

TDI emergency rule

FAQ

For more information, contact: MediaRelations@tdi.texas.gov

Last updated: 4/2/2020