Chicago - The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) and Visa USA have agreed to support participating Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies nationwide that are offering their members co-branded debit cards to pay for healthcare related expenses. The Blue-branded Visa debit card will allow customers to pay for qualified medical expenses by providing them with access to their health plan personal savings accounts. The co-branded cards are part of a larger initiative by Blue Cross and Blue Shield to provide consumers with the information and tools they need to make better decisions healthcare for themselves and their families.

The debit cards will be a central feature for members at participating Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies enrolled in consumer-directed health plans (CDHPs). Consumer-directed products offer the same overall benefit as other forms of health insurance, but they combine a higher deductible threshold with a personal savings account, giving consumers more control over first-dollar spending.

CDHPs are one of the fastest growing classes of health benefit products in the country and are designed to help consumers take more control of their healthcare decisions.

Consumers will be able to use the Blue-branded Visa debit card with flexible spending accounts, health reimbursement arrangements and health savings accounts. HSAs are personal savings accounts that are coupled with high-deductible health plans.

Several Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies have already begun to offer Blue-branded Visa debit cards to their members. The Plans believe the debit cards will not only provide consumers with more convenient and flexible payment options, but will also give them a competitive business advantage.

"Debit cards reduce paperwork and help track individual and family healthcare expenses," said William J. Marino, president and CEO, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey. "With this partnership, employers will be able to offer payment convenience and more affordable healthcare benefits from two brands their employees have come to know and trust."

In addition to consumer benefits, Blue-branded Visa cards will help ease the administrative burden of physicians and other healthcare providers by reducing paperwork and facilitating faster payment turnaround.

A recent survey released by BCBSA on consumer perceptions of CDHPs found that satisfaction levels among consumers are high. In addition, individuals that are enrolled in these products are using the services and information tools insurers are providing them to better inform their healthcare decision making.

Source: Blue Cross Blue Shield, US Newswire


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