Virtual doctor visits are happening everywhere these days. You can get long-distance medical consultations at Connecticut rest areas, at Rite Aid kiosks, even through apps on your smartphone. Major insurers like UnitedHealth are starting to offer them to millions of customers on the assumption that a conversation with the doctor via FaceTime will keep patients from burning through expensive emergency room visits when they aren’t needed. Nearly half of large employers offer the visits, known as telemedicine, as a benefit — a number expected to grow to 80 percent within a few years.
This medical revolution isn’t just technological. It’s also a miracle of modern lobbying.
Telemedicine has entered the mainstream and become a policy buzzword thanks to massive, state-by-state lobbying by an army of corporate reps who have pushed state legislators and even sued a state agency that passed restrictive telemedicine policies.
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