After developing technology designed to eliminate the use of faxes in health care communications, Infina Connect Healthcare Systems is trying to convince patients to ditch their insurance card for an alternative: a health debit card.
The Cary-based startup is working with Healthcare Financial Exchange, which specializes in electronic healthcare systems, to roll out a bank card for health plan members that doubles as an insurance ID card.
“The card really is a health care financial debit card that in the future may also be used as an insurance eligibility card under certain HFX programs,” said William Simpson, HFX’s president. “The new card also can streamline payments between cardholders, medical providers and insurance carriers.”
Members can use the debit card anywhere that a Visa card is accepted, access real-time account information and shop for health care insurance. Bank of America is the primary card issuer.
Use of the card could potentially speed up the time it takes for physician groups to receive payment for medical services.
Ray Coppedge, executive director of Key Physicians, a medical home network in the Triangle and one of Infina’s major clients, said he welcomes any approach that expedites the payment process.
Coppedge said Key has heard positive things about the card but would first like to see a fuller demonstration of how it works before using it.
Key is one of about 1,500 care providers in the Triangle that are part of Infina’s Intelligent Care Coordinator system.
The system reduces costs by streamlining communications regarding prescriptions, referrals and patient records. Many of those communications have traditionally been done by fax.
Still, Infina and HFX may have a harder time convincing patients of the benefits of using a health debit card.
The card could raise privacy concerns since it will combine personal health care information and sensitive financial information. Infina and HFX stress that the new card complies with protections under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA.
Members have control of what information goes into the health care account and specifically protected health information associated with claims only stays in the health care side, while financial information is protected by banking laws and stays in the financial side, said Paul Martia, chief operating officer of HFX.
Infina and HFX have been working on a health debit card since 2011, but the product’s launch has been timed to coincide with the offering of subsidized insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act.
The health debit card will be available starting Tuesday, the same date that uninsured individuals can begin shopping for subsidized insurance in the new online marketplaces created under the federal health care law.
“We are now focused in a new market opportunity created by the healthcare reform act, and that market is just emerging in October,” said Siu Tong, Infina’s founder and chairman.