MGMA pushes for standardized insurance cards

November 21, 2008

With the crumbling economy on everyone's minds, the Medical Group Management Association announced its support of a cost-cutting initiative for physicians at last month's conference in San Diego.

The organization, representing about 13,500 medical group practices, will study the feasibility of a standardized insurance card that features a magnetic strip or bar code. Similar to a credit card, standardized insurance cards could be swiped or read at any medical office to identify the patient and health plan, and even determine coverage eligibility or how much is left on the deductible.

"This is so simple, even a legislator can understand it," William Jessee (pictured), president and CEO of MGMA, told attendees during the conference. "It's amazing how much waste is associated with our current system."

MGMA's card plan is similar to a law passed in Colorado in June that will require a standardized ID for new health-plan enrollees by July 2009 and all health-plan members by July 2010. Colorado's mandate, however, does not require the card to be read electronically, only that the member's name and plan number, co-pay and deductible amounts for the most common plans, and a contact number for the insurer be printed on the card.