ERIC’s Telehealth Initiative: The Importance of Telehealth for Large Employers

The ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC) is leading a nationwide initiative among our member companies to promote policies that facilitate access to telehealth for employees and their families.

As the only nonprofit national association advocating solely for the employee benefit and compensation interests of the country’s largest employers, ERIC speaks in one voice on behalf of our members who provide health benefits to millions of employees and families in every state across the country. At ERIC, we seek to enhance the ability of our members to provide the best health care possible to their employees, retirees, and families at affordable costs.

Employee benefits are a key tool for recruiting and retaining employees. Employers have a strong interest in tailoring benefit packages that appeal to current and potential employees, and that support a healthier workforce. As plan sponsors, ERIC members work to provide quality health care to workers and their families while at the same time trying to ensure that this care is delivered in a cost-effective manner.

Our employers continually strive to find new and innovative means to improve health care.  These include workplace medical clinics, path-breaking wellness programs, payment and delivery system reforms, and the use of technology to enable an individual to receive health care even when he or she is not in the physical presence of a provider. 

Telehealth works for both employers and their workers.  Both want employees to be healthy and to have timely access to the care they need for themselves or a loved one. 

Our members need consistent telehealth policies around the country so that their workers and their families can enjoy the same company benefits regardless of the state in which they live or work. It is imperative that funds to pay benefits are maximized and not diverted to complying with a myriad of disparate and potentially conflicting state rules and regulations.  To achieve this goal, ERIC is striving to promote uniformity of telehealth rules around the country and to remove barriers that impede the efficient and effective delivery of health care. 

Telehealth Benefits Employees

ERIC members want their employees to have the care they need – when and how they need it.  Telehealth facilitates this by providing: 

Accessibility.  Flexibility.  Without barriers. Telehealth gives employees and their families access to health care 24 hours a day, seven days a week, whether at home, in transit, or at work, without regard to standard office hours or proximity to a health care provider.

Benefits for rural, urban, and working families. Telehealth has long been seen as a means for providing access to care for rural populations. Urban underserved populations, retirees, the elderly, disabled employees, and those with language barriers, chronic conditions, or transportation barriers also stand to benefit from increased access to care, as well as working parents and others struggling to balance work and family demands. 

Increased workforce satisfaction. The response from employees who have used telehealth services is very positive. Employees want to minimize the time spent attending to their health needs, or that of loved ones, and appreciate the opportunity to reach a health care professional at times and locations that are convenient to them. They like the service and want it to continue. 

Connection to workplace clinics, rural health centers and employer wellness initiatives.  Telehealth services can complement employer workplace clinics as well as rural health centers.  Telehealth also supports wellness initiatives that employers offer to advance employee health and wellbeing.

Cost-effective care. Employees, retirees, and their families need access to health care that they can utilize because it is provided at an affordable, cost-effective rate.

Our Goal

Our goal is to enable all workers to have 24-hour access to first-rate health care for themselves and their families, regardless of where they live, delivered in the most appropriate mode possible.

In order for high-quality telehealth services to be widely available and accessible, telehealth needs to develop without regulatory barriers that limit its availability.  We support the delivery of telehealth services that are technology-neutral and that are not constrained by prerequisites or mandates on their cost or use.  

Maximizing Benefits for Employees: Best Policies & Practices 

ERIC recognizes the significant opportunity provided by telehealth to modernize and improve health care in rural settings and urban underserved areas, as well as by providing barrier-free access to high-quality medical care to all workers, retirees and their families across the country. 

ERIC encourages state policies that:

  • AVOID imposing additional requirements on providers that offer telehealth services that are not imposed on in-person visits;
  • AVOID restrictions that require patients to visit specific  locations (e.g., “originating sites”) in order to access telehealth services;
  • ADOPT technology-neutral requirements, permitting use of different types of technology platforms that are designed for telehealth; 
  • ADOPT licensing policies that facilitate inter-state practice so providers, located in or out of the state, who deliver high-quality care, can serve patients located in that state; and
  • CONSIDER the needs of patients to have better access to care that can be provided via telehealth, either through a telehealth visit or remote monitoring of health conditions.