MONTPELIER – Insurance companies in Vermont are now being required to cover telehealth and telephone visits with health care provides on the same basis as in-person visits.

The Vermont Department of Financial Regulation announced the new emergency regulation on Tuesday.

The new rule also requires health insurers to cover telephone triage calls without member cost sharing, and temporarily waives compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) consistent with federal guidance.

The rule comes as concern was growing nationally about the impact measures to stop the spread of coronavirus are having on physician practices. Doctors have been rescheduling routine visits and in other cases using alternatives such as telehealth and phone calls, for which they have historically been paid less, sometimes nothing, by insurance companies.

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