NU Online News Service, Mar. 8, 12:45 p.m. – MedUnite Inc., San Diego, a health data communications consortium, says it has now started introducing an “ATM-inspired” health data communications system in Connecticut.

Health carriers that cover 70% of Connecticut’s commercially insured lives can now take medical claims and handle other types of transactions, such as verifying benefits, checking claims status and making referrals, through MedUnite’s Web-based communications system, the consortium says.

MedUnite hopes to add claims editing and reporting functions, electronic remittance advice and electronic funds transfer in the future, the consortium says.

Advocates of electronic claims communications say it can speed up processing, reduce errors and cut costs, but physicians have had trouble using the technology because of the proliferation of many different incompatible systems.

Participating carriers in the MedUnite effort include ConnectiCare Inc., Farmington, Conn., a local carrier, and the seven national and regional companies that started MedUnite in March 2000.

The seven founding carriers are Aetna Inc., Hartford; Anthem Inc., Indianapolis; CIGNA Corp., Philadelphia; Health Net Inc., Woodland Hills, Calif.; Oxford Health Networks Inc., Trumbull, Conn.; PacifiCare Health Systems Inc., Santa Ana, Calif.; and WellPoint Health Networks Inc., Thousand Oaks, Calif.