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Electric-field intrabody communication (EF-IBC) is a promising new scheme for the data exchange among wearable biomedical sensors. It uses the body as the signal transmission media. Compared with existing body area network (BAN) schemes, EF-IBC can achieve higher data rate with less transmission power. Until now, the detailed EF-IBC channel mechanism is not well understood. In this work, finite-element method (FEM) is utilized for the first time to investigate the EF-IBC channel. A circuit-coupled FEM model is established for the EF-IBC channel. The FEM model is extensively verified by experimental measurements. The new physical model enables the revelation of characteristics and effects of different components in the EF-IBC channel. The FEM investigation finds that the capacitive return path is critical to the characteristics of the EF-IBC channel. Parameters of the capacitive return path are quantitatively measured. The investigation also finds that the body plays an important role to the return path capacitance. The forward body path can be well modeled by a cascade of π-shaped circuits. Based on the FEM model of the EF-IBC channel, a simplified circuit model is derived to provide an efficient tool for the transceiver design.