Use of Telemedicine for Sexual and Reproductive Health is Low – Despite Potential to Improve Access to Care
Telemedicine holds the potential to expand access to contraceptives, STI testing and treatment, and abortion care, yet few individuals use this approach to obtain these services. A new KFF analysis examines the opportunities of telemedicine to expand access to sexual and reproductive health care as well as the policy barriers impeding its expansion. Because each state defines and regulates telemedicine differently, the availability and coverage of services is inconsistent across the country. While no state explicitly prohibits the use of telemedicine for contraception or STIs — 18 states have effectively banned telemedicine approaches to provide medication abortion. Many of the states that have recently passed abortion restrictions that have led to clinic closures have passed laws that block the use of telemedicine to distribute mifepristone, even though research finds it to be safe, effective and acceptable to patients when compared to in-person care.
The brief also outlines the growing use of telemedicine for contraception and STI care, including a discussion of insurance coverage of telemedicine services, the financial implications for providers and patiensti and its potential to improve access to reproductive health care across the United States.