Is there a reason why there is not a magnetic strip on the back of my medical insurance card that a lab, doctor’s office or specialist could swipe to determine whether the medical service I am about to receive is covered or not?
Magnetic strips on all cards would solve problems
It’s disappointing that as an insurance customer, I – and my employer – pay extraordinary amounts of money each year for basic health care, yet I find myself paying a $291 lab fee for routine blood work as ordered by my physician during a routine physical exam. It's true I made an assumption that routine blood work from this reputable, independent lab which my doctor recommended would be covered by a health insurance policy.

My assumption was incorrect. There is a random list of labs somewhere in the insurance documentation, and this lab my doctor recommended didn't happen to be on that list, and I did not happen to check. So -- I find out later when I receive a surprise bill -- this routine blood work will be paid by yours truly.

You really have to call your insurance provider before you do anything! Otherwise you pay double (once via insurance premium and once when the lab sends you the bill). This is not a fair system. This is not even a sensible business model for the insurance provider!

So I ask – most sincerely – why wasn't the $291 fee disclosed at time of service? The actual bill for the blood work was closer to $600, I’m informed, but insurance paid some of it. (?!) There’s no rhyme or reason here. That makes even less sense than if the insurance company had paid none of it.

There's no transparency, no disclosure of charges at the time of services. Is that legal?
Emergency room blues  My mother can’t get into an emergency room without the receptionist verifying her insurance coverage. Why can't this be done for routine services? 
The bill could be $6000, arrive weeks after my purchase, come totally out of the blue, and I’d have to pay it. This is a consumer protection #Fail. If I filled my car with gas then received a bill weeks later for $291 everyone would be shocked. Yet that's exactly what just happened at the lab.
“It was your mistake, you should have checked,” I was told by the lab. No! YOU should have checked!  If this was a gas pump, my account would be checked. If this was an emergency room, my account would be checked. But the lab won't check? Then they shouldn't get paid.

Each year insurance companies post rocketing profits. And customers pay twice for routine blood work.
Magnetic strip, like a bank card  Again: why not a magnetic strip on the back of everyone's medical insurance card that a lab, doctor’s office or specialist can swipe to determine whether the medical service a person is about to receive is covered or not?

There is no technical reason why not. I work in software, I know how feasible it is.