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Smart Card A Great Idea, But When?

It costs about $19 to process a single health care claim, according to a survey by Milliman & Robertson, the actuarial firm. Now, an electronic system designed to whittle the cost and time involved in claims resolution may be around the corner.

RealMed, an Indianapolis-based software developer and system integrator, plans to unveil a "smart card" system electronically linking physicians with payers — thus eliminating paper work, cutting claims adjudication time to minutes and, says RealMed, slashing claims processing costs by 70 percent.

Sounds great, but for now, RealMed is a middleman without anyone on either side. At a news conference, Todd Morris, vice president for marketing, announced the system would "go live this spring," but refused to name participating insurers or even a debut market — saying cryptically, "We are committed to finding a geography and partners that will ensure the critical mass to be able to penetrate a market." Pressed, Morris admitted that no payers or physicians had signed contracts. Perhaps spring is a bit optimistic?

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