PRINCETON JUNCTION, NJ–(Marketwire – May 10, 2011) – A smart card-based Medicare identity card could save the United States $370 billion over 10 years, according to Kelli Emerick, executive director of the Secure ID Coalition. Speaking at the Smart Card Alliance 2011 Annual Conference, Emerick said a smart Medicare ID could reduce the $60 billion annual Medicare fraud by 66 percent, for a net annual savings of $37 billion after program costs.
The idea is getting interest from a Congress eager to find ways to save money according to Emerick. She told attendees that Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) questioned Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius about the outdated Medicare card issued to America’s seniors at a recent budget hearing. In a system that is riddled with fraud, waste and abuse, Sen. Kirk suggested that knowing who is receiving services and who is providing them could significantly lower costs, and he recommended the agency look at the Department of Defense chip-based Common Access Card (CAC) as a model.
The American Medical Association (AMA) is looking into the idea of a personal health information card. Dr. James J. James, director of the AMA Center for Public Health Preparedness and Disaster Response, presented an update on an AMA pilot program investigating ways to improve the availability of health information for individuals, especially in disaster situations such as the Katrina hurricane. He said that there were thousands of people in the Katrina disaster that needed medical care but were not able to provide any of their personal health history nor even identify themselves, due to age, mental illness or injury. The AMA’s idea is to create an individual health ID card that contains important information such as allergies or special medical problems. One important finding of their focus groups is that people want to have a health information ID card and are willing to put their personal health information on it, as long as they have some control over who can see what. As for the technology of the health ID card, James said, “Whatever we have, it’s going to be a smart card.”