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Limited Internet Access May Drive Disparities in Telehealth Use

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Summary

Telehealth has the potential to expand access to healthcare by allowing people to interact with providers remotely, but disparities affect access to the technology that makes telehealth possible.

Using American Community Survey data, Avalere found more limited access to the Internet in households with lower income, in areas with a higher proportion of Medicaid recipients, and in areas with a higher percentage of minority households.

In addition to Internet connectivity, the ability of telehealth to expand utilization of healthcare services is limited by traditional barriers to care, such as distrust of institutions and unfamiliarity with or fear of healthcare services. With flexibilities from the COVID public health emergency and state laws to support expanded services, more people across the country are gaining access to telehealth services. However, expanding future access to healthcare will require reaching vulnerable populations both to provide technological support and to understand and breakdown long-entrenched barriers to care.

Avalere’s analysis is featured on the Medical Care Blog, the official blog of the peer-reviewed journal Medical Care, sponsored by the Medical Care Section of the American Public Health Association. Read the full analysis on their website.

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