BCBSNC Announces New Group HSA Offering with Mellon Financial

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) announced today that it is launching a new group Health Savings Account (HSA) product with Mellon Financial Corporation’s Human Resources & Investor Solutions (HR&IS) business for North Carolina employers. The new offering, called HSA BlueSM, consists of a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) from BCBSNC and a health savings account (HSA) administered by Mellon.
 
HSA Blue is available for employer groups beginning January 1, 2005. The companies plan to launch a similar product for individuals in 2005.
 
"We know that many consumers want more ownership and more control over their health care dollars," said John Roos, BCBSNC’s senior vice president of Sales and Marketing. "We’re giving them that option by combining our most popular health plan with the wide variety of consumer-focused investment products Mellon offers."
 
HSA Blue will offer consumers a high-deductible Blue OptionsSM PPO plan. Blue Options is BCBSNC’s most popular health plan. In addition, HSA Blue members and their employers may contribute to an interest-bearing, FDIC-insured account – offered through Mellon – which they can use to pay for qualified medical expenses. Members receive checks and a debit card to use for qualified health care expenses.
HSAs offer many advantages for consumers not typically found in other health plans:
  • Contributions are tax-deductible.
  • Interest on HSA accounts is tax-free.
  • HSA withdrawals can be used to pay for any qualified medical expense tax-free.
  • Employers and employees can both contribute to an individual’s HSA.
  • HSAs are portable, and an individual owns the funds contained in his or her HSA.
  • Unspent balances roll over from year to year.
"HSAs represent an exciting opportunity because they are another tool businesses can use in their efforts to offer affordable health insurance," according to Suzy Johnson, CEBS, RHU, president of Strategic Employee Benefit Services of the Carolinas in Charlotte. "Small businesses will be some of the first to enroll in these plans because they offer tremendous flexibility not found under other tax-advantaged accounts."
 
Here’s how it works:
  1. Consumers purchase a high deductible health plan that carries a lower premium than many other health plans.
  2. Consumers and their employers can contribute to an HSA to cover their qualified medical expenses up to the amount of their deductible each year.
  3. When members use health care services, their physician or hospital files a claim with BCBSNC.
  4. BCBSNC processes the claim, taking into account the company’s negotiated fees and how much the member has paid toward his or her deductible. BCBSNC sends this information to the member and the physician/hospital, along with any payment due on the claim.
  5. The physician/hospital bills the member for the amount he or she owes.
  6. The member pays the bill with funds from his or her HSA, using a check from their HSA account or HSA debit card.
An HSA account functions much like an IRA for medical care. When a member’s account reaches a minimum balance, the member may invest additional contributions in a selection of mutual funds available through The Dreyfus Corporation, a Mellon company.
 
"HSAs represent a powerful new approach for addressing spiraling health care costs," said James D. Aramanda, Mellon vice chairman and head of its HR&IS business. "Creating alliances with leaders such as BCBSNC fits our strategy of becoming the premier provider of HSA products and services."
 
BCBSNC recently strengthened its lineup of online decision support tools with the addition of the Hospital Comparison Tool to help consumers evaluate their hospital options. Other online resources available to help consumers make informed health care decisions are Health Line BlueSM, the Health Care Cost EstimatorSM and the PharmaAdvisor.TM
 
 
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina:
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is a leader in delivering innovative health care products, services and information to nearly 3.1 million members, including approximately 550,000 served on behalf of other Blue Plans. The company offers its members the Blue ExtrasSM value–added programs, which provide discounts and information on a wide variety of health–related services at no additional cost. BCBSNC also offers life, dental, long–term care and disability insurance products. For 71 years, the company has served its customers by offering access to quality health care at a competitive price and has served the people of North Carolina through support of community organizations, programs and events that promote good health.
 
BCBSNC’s HMO and POS products have earned Excellent Accreditation from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), an independent, not–for–profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of health care delivered to people everywhere. BCBSNC also has North Carolina’s first and only NCQA accredited PPO plan – Blue OptionsSM. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Access BCBSNC online at bcbsnc.com.
 
 
About Mellon Financial Corporation:
Human Resources & Investor Solutions is the worldwide human resources and shareholder services business of Mellon Financial Corporation, a global financial services company. Headquartered in Pittsburgh, Mellon is one of the world's leading providers of financial services for institutions, corporations and high net worth individuals, providing institutional asset management, mutual funds, private wealth management, asset servicing, human resources and investor solutions, and treasury services. Mellon has more than $3.7 trillion in assets under management, administration or custody, including $670 billion under management. Its asset management companies include The Dreyfus Corporation and U.K.-based Newton Investment Management Limited. News and other information about Mellon is available at bnymellon.com.
 
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