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First Electronic Healthcare Network in the U.S. Begins Operations in Buffalo, NY
Date:2/16/2009

. "Hopefully cardholders will now be able to seek primary care providers that will enable them to get the preventative care they deserve."

About 45.7 million Americans were uninsured in 2007, including 8.1 million children, according to the federal government. At least 25 million more are "underinsured," according to the Commonwealth Fund.

"We're in a position now where we can help people," Wolfson said. "This gives people hope."

To join, consumers must go to one of the hospitals or urgent-care sites, where they will receive what looks like a gold credit card, with their photo on the upper right corner.

More importantly, though, the "smart" card features both a magnetic stripe on the back and a microchip in the front. The stripe has the person's network account number, so that their treatments among the various hospitals are linked. The chip will contain a digitized version of the person's fingerprint, encoded when they sign up.

The digital image is used to verify their identity when they obtain services, and is compared against the person's actual fingerprint when they press down on a finger scanner. It can only be read with a special card reader and computer program set up at the respective medical offices, but is not retained.

Besides the basic system, the company also offers "stored-value" small business and gift cards that are "reloadable." A small business that can't afford full insurance premiums for its workers could instead provide a lower-cost catastrophic plan and then give employees the HTN card, with money "loaded" on it every pay period. Stored value accounts are managed by Lake Shore Savings Bank.

"Many employers are eliminating the coverage as an employee benefit. With the HTN, local businesses are provided with another option," said Niagara Falls Memorial Chief Operating Officer Anthony F. Zito. "It's a win-win for the patien
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SOURCE HealthTransaction Network
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