Jul. 31--President Bush's former health secretary Tommy Thompson is putting the
final touches to a plan that could result in US citizens having a radio frequency
identification (RFID) chip inserted under their skin, The Business has learned.
The RFID capsules would be linked to a computerised database being created by the US
Department of Health to store and manage the nation's health records. It could be the precursor
to a similar scheme in the UK.
The president's budget for 2006 continues to support
the use of health information technology by increasing funding to $125m (£70m, E103m) for
Thompson, now a director of Applied Digital Solutions, the company
that makes the chips, intends to publish the proposal in the next 50 days, by which time he
plans to have had a VeriChip inserted in his arm. Thompson believes the capsules could help
save thousands of lives every year.
VeriChip spokesman John Procter says around 98,000
people die needlessly in the US every year after being given inappropriate treatment because
their medical history was not available.
"There is a vast range of people who could
benefit from having an RFID chip inserted under their skin as insurance against an accident.
People with adverse reactions to certain medicines such as penicillin, people with pacemakers,
people with allergies, people with weak hearts, would be made safer by a process that costs
around $200 per person. In fact, virtually everyone could benefit from having a chip inserted."
The company intends to lobby the UK health authorities to inject the chips into British
According to Procter, the chips can also be used for financial transactions.
In Europe, the Baja Beach Club chain has introduced chipping in the Netherlands and Spain.
The VeriChip is inserted at the club and means club-goers will no longer have to wait
in line to pay to get in and will be able to use the chip to pay their bar bill.
liberties groups such as Caspian in the US fear that the need for increased security in the
wake of terrorist attacks could act as a catalyst for a more widespread use of VeriChips.