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ELECTRONIC SYSTEMS designed to cut health insurance red tape are, with caveats on confidentiality, generally thought to be a good way to reduce costs and hassles for patients and providers.
However, a proposal this month by Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Louis Sullivan, MD, to give every insured person a credit card that would facilitate electronic billing and record keeping by containing the details of what the patient is and is not covered for, and to then call that a first step in health care reform, seems mostly to be fueling criticism of the Bush administration's approach to such reform.
"Not that it is a bad idea," says Sidney Wolfe, MD, director of Public Citizen Health Research Group, Washington, DC, but the potential savings "are a drop in the bucket of administrative waste. This does not improve access, it improves cash flow," he says.
The plan is "a
Cotton P. Proposed Card, Intended to Facilitate Medical Billing, Record Keeping, Draws Mixed Reviews. JAMA. 1991;266(20):2804-2807. doi:10.1001/jama.1991.03470200014004