Wednesday, April 23, 2008

More Help for Health Insurance Reform

I can't help it. Maybe it's because our health insurance system is so broken. Maybe it's because the proposals from the left sound a lot like socialized medicine (not good). I don't know what it is but every now and then I get more ideas for how to fix the insurance system. Here's my latest thoughts.

Let's get rid of the overhead from all of that massive paperwork. How? Let's turn insurance cards into something akin to credit cards. You go to the doctor and the front desk runs your insurance card just like a credit card, inputs the code for your visit, and the insurance pays its amount. At this point you can either be done or pay a co-pay.

For this to really work, we would also need unified billing codes so that a physical for one doctor's office doesn't show up like brain surgery for another. Once all of the codes are the same, you run the card, input the code, and it shows you how much the insurance covers. Subtract that from what the doctor charges and you have your copay. Simple.

The infrastructure is already there (how many doctor's offices DON'T take credit cards), you just partner with Visa, MasterCard, American Express, etc. to handle the transactions and get some slightly updated equipment that gives feedback on what the insurance covers.

The nice thing about this is that a doctor wouldn't need a professional staff just to handle insurance claims. The would be handled automatically. The doctors also wouldn't have to wait weeks to get reimbursed, it would be immediate. So less staff and less waiting is going to translate into lower prices and more convenience for us.

My plan also helps insurance companies. With claims handled automatically, there's less staff for them as well. Less staff means less overhead and lower prices for insurance. We save money there too.

So, assuming this would actually work, it saves the doctors money (which lowers medical bills) and it saves the insurance companies money (which lowers premiums). So that leaves us with lower health care costs. How's that for a reform?

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