United Health Group was the first major health company to issue customer-insurance identification cards that contain plan eligibility information, the personal health record and, in some cases, a link to a person's Health Savings Account to facilitate payment. Swiping the card through a card reader gives medical personnel all that information. It's contained in a magnetic strip, but there's other information on the card as well.
The face of a United Health Care ID card lists the Health Plan number, member ID and Group Number. It also shows the name of the primary care physician, his phone number and the amount to be charged for "office/spec./ER." For example, an office visit to the primary care physician might cost $10, to a specialist, such as a cardiologist, about $35 and visiting the Emergency Room might cost $65. That's the most critical information needed to make a decision about going to the doctor. It tells what the initial cost is. The other information on the front of the card is largely for medical and pharmaceutical personnel in handling a claim for service. On the back of the card are phone numbers to call if a nurse is needed or have questions about health coverage, prescriptions or dental coverage.