Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans may begin working with banks to offer Blue-branded debit cards to their members who participate in tax-favored health savings accounts (HSAs) as well as flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs).

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) Board of Directors formally approved the use of the Blue Brands for these types of debit cards effective January 1, and the individual Plans are expected to collaborate with banks to issue debit cards featuring the familiar Blue Cross and Blue Shield logos in the coming months.  The debit cards give members immediate and convenient access to funds in their tax-favored health accounts.

"The Blues are committed to empowering consumers through the creation of products and services that provide convenience, flexibility and choice," said BCBSA President and CEO Scott P. Serota.  "Blue Plans across the country are developing new and innovative products that allow consumers to take greater control of their healthcare decisions, and the new debit cards will complement these efforts."

The introduction of the new debit cards also may benefit providers by streamlining their administrative processes through enhanced billing efficiencies that reduce paper work and facilitate faster payment turnaround time.

Passage of the Medicare Modernization Act in 2003 cleared the way for the creation of HSAs.  Last November, BCBSA announced that Blue Plans will offer HSA-compatible insurance plans in 49 states by 2006.

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is made up of 40 independent, locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide healthcare coverage for more than 91 million Americans. 

Source: BCBSA

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