UnitedHealth Group to roll out integrated health card

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:40 pm

Starting in the first quarter of 2007, Minneapolis-based UnitedHeath Group Inc. will introduce a new, integrated health card, which will give clients and health care providers access to portable health records, financial accounts and a line of credit attached to health savings accounts (HSAs).

The new card also will help medical offices determine a patient’s eligibility for services, co-pays and debit capabilities. Customers with HSAs will be able to use the cards to pay for co-pays and prescriptions with their HSA dollars.

UnitedHealth Group’s customers who have high-deductible health plans with an HSA now carry two cards, said Daryl Richard, vice president of communications with Uniprise, a division of UnitedHealth Group that serves large, national employers. One of the cards is a typical health insurance card, allowing health providers to determine coverage. The other is a debit card, specific to HSAs.

When introduced, the new card will combine the functions of those two cards. It also will allow physicians and other health care providers to immediately gain access to patients’ electronic medical records.

The card will not carry the medical record. Rather, it will serve as a password of sorts, allowing a doctor’s office to open a Web-based electronic medical record.

“One of the benefits to the personal health record is that when you check in at the doctor’s office, they can hit ‘print,’ and your doctor can grab it and have a much more comprehensive record at hand,” Richard said. “It will have conditions, procedures, medications with exact dates and when they were filled. It will include immunizations you and your children will have.”

Patients will also be able to add features such as family histories to their records, Richard said.

UnitedHealth Group partnered with MasterCard to develop the new cards, using the magnetic strips on the back of MasterCard branded HSA cards to carry customer information. Card readers in medical offices are able to determine plan eligibility and make payments directly from HSAs.

Electronic health records can be accessed using a USB card reader, a piece of equipment common in many medical offices, Richard said.

“One of the joys with connectivity is that it makes health care more portable,” Richards said. “Whether it’s emergency room care or natural disasters where you have people displaced from their homes, this makes it more possible to go to a doctor’s office, and as long as they have a card reader, they can pull up your history.”

The first patients to receive the new cards will be those enrolled in consumer-driven health plans with UnitedHealth Group, Richard said. There are about 105,500 customers in Wisconsin enrolled in high-deductible, consumer-driven health plans. Those plans also have HSAs administered through Exante Financial Services, a financial division of UnitedHealth Group that is overseen by Uniprise.

“We want to focus on customer-driven health care,” said Steve Thompson, Midwest regional director of communications with UnitedHealth Care. “We’re talking about putting information in their hands. This allows the people who need to make those decisions to have that information first.”

After introducing the new cards to customers in high-deductible accounts, UnitedHealth Group wants to distribute the cards to all of its 25 million customers by the end of the year, Richard said.

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