Saturday, March 21, 2009
Swipe-It Medical Cards
Despite the fact that everything has changed in life with electronics, the way patients and insurance interact with providers remains back in the 1950s.
There is a effort being pushed for "swipe-it" ID cards that would be standardized no matter what health insurance or Medicare coverage a patient has. Here is how it would work:
The "Swipe-it" card would look like a credit card with an electronic stripe on the back. One swipe and the doctor or pharmacist or hospital would have your name, dependents, address and phone number. But even more, it would identify your exact insurance plan, your co-pay or deductible and what amount has been fulfilled for the year. It could link to a personal health record with your medications, allergies, medical conditions and other important information.
If I can go anywhere in the world and use (or be denied because I am over my limit) a credit card, this should be easy.
The savings would be profound. It is estimated that $1 billion is spent in wasted work by resubmitting rejected claims because the wrong information was transmitted. Current ID cards are not standard and can be on paper that dog ears or on colored plastic that does not clearly photocopy. Each insurer (United, Anthem Blue Cross, Cigna) can have hundreds of different plans and products, each with different coverage requirements, that are not reflected on the ID card.
We physicians have long thought that the confusion engendered by the Insurers is not a mistake but is a well oiled scheme for delaying and denying claims. It is usually up to the provider to track down and resubmit claims and this is one of the key reasons primary care has died. For small $$ office visit, the delays and denials of payment have killed the practice. It is the patient (and our Nation) who have ultimately suffered.
Swipe -it cards are about 20 years overdue. Perhaps health care reform will bring some common sense to this sick industry.
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