Does telemedicine reimbursement parity improve access to contraception? Evidence from the COVID-19 response
Awarded 2020
Contraceptive service delivery: Capturing innovations responsive to COVID-19
Terri-Ann Thompson, PhD
Ibis Reproductive Health

While most states have enacted legislation requiring that commercial insurance cover telemedicine, only a few require that payers reimburse telemedicine services at the same rate as in-person services. Because ‘reimbursement parity’ laws may remove financial disincentives for offering telemedicine, providers in states that require parity are likely better positioned to respond to the unprecedented demand for telemedicine as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This research will evaluate the impact of state-level telemedicine reimbursement parity laws, implemented before and in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, on in-person and remote contraceptive encounter rates. A secondary aim is to understand the effect of these laws on important groups, including young, rural, and postpartum women. We will use a difference-in-differences analytic approach and a national sample of commercial claims to compare average changes in contraceptive visits among women living in states that implemented parity before and in response to the pandemic with states that did not implement parity. While we expect to see a drop in contraceptive encounters across states, we hypothesize that reimbursement parity will minimize this effect through enhanced access to telemedicine for contraception, even more so for women living in states that implemented telemedicine parity laws prior to COVID-19. Findings from this quasi-experimental research will be shared with key stakeholders in telemedicine and contraceptive care so that they may be leveraged with health administrators and policymakers. This project will lay the groundwork for establishing the importance of reimbursement in expanding the adoption of telecontraception into standard practice.