Few studies have examined telehealth use among rural
Medicaid beneficiaries. This study produced a descriptive
overview of telehealth use in 2011, including the
prevalence of telehealth use among rural and urban
Medicaid beneficiaries, characteristics of telehealth
users, types of telehealth services provided, and
diagnoses associated with telehealth use.
Using data from the 2011 Medicaid Analytic eXtract (MAX)
we conducted bivariate analyses to test the associations
between rurality and prevalence and patterns of
telehealth use among Medicaid beneficiaries.
Rural Medicaid beneficiaries were more likely to use
telehealth services than their urban counterparts, but
absolute rates of telehealth use were low—0.26% of rural
non-dual Medicaid beneficiaries used telehealth in 2011.
Psychotropic medication management was the most prevalent
use of telehealth for both rural and urban Medicaid
beneficiaries, but the proportion of users who accessed
non-behavioral health services through telehealth was
significantly greater as rurality increased. Regardless
of telehealth users' residence, mood disorders were the
most common reason for obtaining telehealth services. As
rurality increased, significantly higher proportions of
telehealth users received services to address ADHD and
other behavioral health problems usually diagnosed in
These findings provide a baseline for further
policy-relevant investigations including examinations of
changes in telehealth use rates in Medicaid since 2011.
Reimbursement policies and unique rural service needs may
account for the observed differences in rural-urban
Medicaid telehealth use rates.