I. What Are California's Telemedicine Policies?

In California, your telehealth services are covered in much the same way as in-person services. Both Medi-Cal and private payer insurance cover all telemedicine services. Parity laws specify that telehealth is reimbursed at the same rate as in-person services.

Medicaid Private payers Parity
Reimbursement for: All telehealth services Reimbursement for: All telehealth services Reimbursed at the same rate as in-person services

Parity Laws

Parity refers to a set of laws created to help Americans get access to affordable health care services. Simply put, they require health insurance plans to cover two types of services equally. California’s telehealth parity laws ensure you get reimbursed for remote care at the same rate as in-person visits and don’t permit insurance plans to require in-person contact for coverage.

In California, Medi-Cal and private payer insurance cover all telehealth services, making it easy to receive care from an online doctor. Service plans cannot limit the setting where services are provided for either the health care provider or the patient. For both Medi-Cal and private payer insurance, telehealth services are subject to the terms and conditions outlined in your contract. To be covered by Medi-Cal, your service provider needs to be located and licensed in California.

Eligible Health Care Providers

Neither Medi-Cal nor private payer insurance limits which health care providers get reimbursed for telemedicine services, as long as the services are clinically appropriate and rooted in evidence-based medicine. The types of providers that qualify include:

  • Physicians
  • Physician assistants
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Clinical nurse specialists
  • Registered dietitians or nutrition professionals
  • Nurse-midwives
  • Certified registered nurse anesthetists
  • Clinical psychologists
  • Clinical social workers
  • Dentists
  • Dermatologists
  • Ophthalmologists
  • Speech-language pathologists
  • Audiologists
  • OTs and PTs

Online Prescriptions

An examination is required for a doctor to call in a prescription, however this doesn’t have to be in person. Examinations can include a telehealth interview, self-screening tool, or questionnaire. Prescriptions can be filled remotely through telepharmacy services and dispensed through remote dispensing site pharmacies.

II. Find an Online Doctor in California

When you require health care services, it’s important to choose a qualified medical professional who fits your coverage needs and meets your expectations. Here’s what to weigh when you’re selecting an online doctor for telehealth services:

  • Research credentials: To ensure your doctor is qualified, a good first step is to check their certification. One simple and trustworthy tool is certificationmatters.org, which allows you to search any doctor by name and address. You can check the doctor’s website or call their office and ask for a copy of their certification. Visit California’s Medical Board to verify state licenses.
  • Determine your cost: Luckily, insurance coverage is relatively straightforward in California, as state parity laws specify that telehealth services are covered at the same rate as in-person health services. Keep in mind, doctors have different payment structures, and it’s important to understand the fine print before setting your first appointment. For example, some doctors only charge a one-time fee for your first consultation, while others charge a subscription fee for long-term care. If you’re not sure, pay attention to terms like “annual charge” and “monthly charge.”
  • Read online doctor reviews: There are plenty of online resources available to help you determine if a doctor is the right fit for you. When reading, pay close attention to the most important qualities to you, such as telemedicine services or specialization in a particular branch of medicine. Be sure to consult multiple sources to get a well-rounded impression.

III. Research Our California Telemedicine Sources

For more information about telemedicine services in California, you can reference these sources: