GAO Reports Three Potential Uses for Electronically Readable Medicare Cards

April 27, 2015
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) could implement electronically readable cards for beneficiaries and providers for a number of reasons, according to a report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) could implement electronically readable cards for beneficiaries and providers for a number of reasons, according to a report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The GAO conducted the study based on a number of proposals that have been put in place to replace Medicare cards with electronically readable ones. The agency said that there were three key uses including authenticating beneficiary and provider presence at the point of care, electronically exchanging beneficiary medical information, and electronically conveying beneficiary identity and insurance information to providers.

Along with reducing reimbursement errors and improving medical record keeping, these electronic readable cards could curtail Medicare fraud, the GAO report says. Although, they do note CMS officials have said claims should still be paid even when cards are not used because they would not want to limit beneficiaries' access to care. Thus, the fraud reduction would likely be minimal.

The report did list a few challenges that would come with adoption of these cards. There could be challenges with interoperability and ensuring consistency with provider records, the authors said. They also said CMS would have to change current card management processes, including issuing provider cards and developing standards and procedures for card use. Also, Medicare providers may incur costs and face challenges updating their IT systems to use the cards, they said.

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