The Alliance for Connected Care is pleased to support the Telehealth Expansion Act of 2023 (H.R. 1843/S. 1001) and applauds Representatives Steel (R-CA), Lee (D-NV), Smith (R-NE), and Schneider (D-IL) and Senators Daines (R-MT) and Cortez Masto (D-NV) for their leadership in introducing this bipartisan, bicameral legislation.
This bill would make permanent the CARES Act authority allowing employers and health plans to cover telehealth visits for individuals with high-deductible health plans coupled with a health savings account (HDHP-HSA) before having to meet their deductible. This flexibility has been critical to ensuring American families could maintain access to a range of affordable virtual care services on a pre-deductible basis throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and is currently extended through December 31, 2024 as a result of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023.
There are more than 32 million Americans with HDHP-HSAs. More than 50 percent of individuals with an HSA live in zip codes where the median income is below $75,000 annually. Reaching the deductible threshold of $1,400 for an individual and $2,800 for a family is often a financial strain. Allowing employers to offer pre-deductible coverage of telehealth services for employees with HDHP-HSAs provides meaningful access to health care services before the deductible is met.
These policies are also popular among patients and plan sponsors in the commercial market. For example, a 2021 survey of health plans found that the top services most likely to improve patient satisfaction if covered pre-deductible for individuals with an HDHP-HSA were primary care visits (81 percent) and the permanent ability to offer telehealth services (64 percent).
“Millions of Americans spend thousands of dollars of their own money on medical services before their insurance kicks in. Even with the benefit of tax exclusion, high deductibles are a struggle for many individuals and families. Why wouldn’t we want to allow employers to cover telehealth, including primary care and mental health services, immediately regardless of deductible? It’s access to health care, plain and simple,” said Krista Drobac, Executive Director of the Alliance for Connected Care. “The Alliance for Connected Care is proud to support the Telehealth Expansion Act, which will ensure individuals with HDHP-HSAs continue to have ready access to virtual-care services on a permanent basis.”
The Alliance was please to lead a stakeholder letter in support of this bill, which had more than 185 organizations sign on in support. The letter supported a successful effort in advocating for the favorable reporting of this bill out of the House Ways & Means Committee during a markup of the bill on June 7, 2023.
For more information and the Alliance’s advocacy on this policy, please click here.