I. What Are Alabama Telemedicine Policies?

Alabama telemedicine is only available through physicians and similar health care providers or psychologists. Allied health professionals, such as speech, occupational and physical therapists, are not covered by current policies, and no reimbursement is available. State parity laws apply to mental health services and aren’t written for telemedicine. As an Alabama resident, you can see a doctor online and receive basic prescriptions that aren’t for controlled substances. All other services may require an office visit.

Medicaid Private payers Parity
Reimbursement for: Live video fee under certain circumstances and for specific services. Remote monitoring is covered for listed conditions Reimbursement for: Not defined No parity laws exist for telemedicine

Parity Laws 

In Alabama, no specific parity laws exist with regards to telemedicine. When enacted, parity laws greatly expand patient access to remote medical care by ensuring equal reimbursement. Insurance companies have been slow to adopt policies for this type of coverage but change seems to be on the horizon. Slow adoption may be due to the lack of legal guidance on when and how to offer telemedicine. While many doctors may receive an equal reimbursement rate, obtaining preapproval to provide services via telemedicine platforms may be required.

Medicaid extended telemedicine coverage during a public health crisis but may not offer the same option in the future. For services provided during the extension, all covered services from health care professionals, such as physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and other listed licensed providers, reimbursement rates are equal for both in-person and telehealth services. While there are no specific restrictions on the origination of service provided to patients, all telemedicine offered to Alabama residents must come from someone licensed to provide the service within that state. In emergencies, Alabama’s licensing departments may (and have during COVID-19) offer expedited, temporary licensing and the option to apply for permanent status through the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact.

Eligible Health Care Providers

While Alabama makes it easy for eligible providers to offer telehealth services, it severely limits the available types of services. Without specific parity laws on the books to guarantee reimbursement levels for allied health professionals, you might need to schedule in-office appointments to see providers, such as dieticians or speech therapists. However, by providing equal reimbursement to all physicians, CMS makes it possible for you to seek out various specialist care doctors via remote platforms. Here is a list of the specific types of providers that Alabama Medicaid covers:

  • Physicians
  • Physician assistants
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Clinical nurse specialists
  • Clinical psychologists
  • Dentists
  • Dermatologists
  • Ophthalmologists

Online Prescriptions 

Alabama does not explicitly allow or disallow the use of prescriptions through online sources. Your doctor may choose to offer an online prescription to help with certain conditions, which is more likely if you have an existing professional relationship, and your doctor has performed past in-person examinations.

It is possible to get prescriptions filled online in Alabama, but typically not for controlled substances. In practice, this means that if you have a suspected bacterial infection, you can likely get a prescription for antibiotics. You’ll have to schedule an office visit to obtain pain control medication for an injury at work.

II. Find an Online Doctor in Alabama

Finding the right doctor is often a challenge, even when it comes to in-person appointments. For online service, it can be even more difficult. You may never meet your doctor in person. Alabama requires video conferencing for patient appointments, which can help you develop a rapport with your online doctor. When searching for an online doctor in Alabama, take the time to:

  • Research credentials: To offer telemedicine services, doctors and other covered health care providers must be licensed by the state of Alabama. You can often check medical licensing through the state board.
  • Determine your cost: Since Alabama doesn’t have any parity laws on the books, you might want to call your insurance company to verify fees before seeking online medical care.
  • Read online doctor reviews: Before selecting a specific telemedicine provider, do a little research. If you already have a doctor that you like, you may be able to simply switch to telemedicine visits to reduce the need for in-person visits. Otherwise, you should look for online reviews on sites not owned by the doctor. For example, avoid social media when seeking reviews since companies can delete negative reviews. It’s always a good idea to ask for personal recommendations from friends and family.

III. Research Our Alabama Telemedicine Sources