Greenwood Village, Colo. - Great-West Healthcare, a division of Great-West Life & Annuity Insurance Co., is launching a pilot program with E-Duction Inc., a Philadelphia-based provider of payroll deduction solutions, to issue the CLEAR Card, a payroll deduction credit card for employers with consumer-driven or other high-deductible health care plans.The CLEAR Card, which is processed like any other credit, debit or check card, is a tool designed to help members pay out-of-pocket health care expenses. The pilot program will be rolled out this month to various clients nationwide.

According to a recent national Great-West Healthcare consumer survey, 39% of respondents said they have no money set aside now for health care costs, and an additional 17% cannot cover a $1,000 deductible.

"Members enrolled in consumer-driven health care plans typically pay lower premiums, but may pay higher, variable out-of-pocket expenses, which can create issues for many who might have limited resources," says Cindy Donohoe, vice president of marketing and product development at Great-West Healthcare. "Too often, if consumers cannot make payments, they shift the outstanding costs to providers, which creates bad debt for the providers. The CLEAR Card will help the industry avoid that scenario."

Members enroll in the CLEAR Card program through a dedicated Web site or a toll-free number and make purchases on the card anywhere that MasterCard is accepted (33 million locations worldwide). The employee then pays for purchases in equal installments via automatic payroll deduction.

For medical expenses that are greater than $199, CLEAR Card members receive interest free financing for six months. Medical expenses below this threshold and other non-medical expenses are paid interest-free via automatic payroll deduction over two months. The CLEAR Card provides a credit line of up to 4% of the member's annual base salary and can be used with any Great-West Healthcare consumer-driven health care plan.

No advance contributions are required. There are no financial penalties if the benefit is not used, and there are no late fees since the payments are deducted automatically from the member's paycheck. Members can view their statements online. To administer the program, companies only need an automated payroll system. No additional software is required on the part of the providers or companies enrolling in this benefit.

Source: Great-West Healthcare

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