Options Blue HSA

Benefits

This consumer-directed health plan is an innovative way to help you manage costs and the health of your employees. It’s a high deductible health plan coupled with a health savings account (HSA) to help employees pay for eligible medical expenses. You, your employee, or both of you can contribute money to the employee’s health savings account each year. The account is the employee’s to keep, even if he or she leaves the company or retires.

See the tabs above to find out more about how consumer-directed plans work and learn about programs and services that Blue Cross offers to help keep employees healthy.

  • Highlights
  • Tax advantages for account contributions
  • Coverage for preventive care
  • Employees see doctors they choose – no referrals
  • A potential savings investment vehicle for employees
  • Convenience and paper-free transactions
  • Rich suite of online tools helps employees manage their health, their care and their account
  • Worldwide coverage through the BlueCard® network

Learn more
U.S. Department of Treasury -- about HSAs

Consumer-directed plans: Questions & answers

What is a consumer-directed benefit solution?
A consumer-directed benefit solution combines the protection of a high-deductible health plan with a financial account to help pay for medical and other eligible expenses. There are several variations of how the account is funded to offset the deductible, but members decide where and when to spend the money in the account (based on the IRS list of Section 213(d) eligible expenses).

How does the account work?
You, your employee, or both of you contribute money to a health savings account every year. Your employee uses the money in the account to pay for eligible medical expenses. When the account is used up, the employee is responsible for the remaining amount of the deductible and out-of-pocket maximum. Unused funds in the account at the end of the year are “rolled over” and added to the next year’s balance.

The account is the employee’s to keep, even if that person leaves the company or retires. The employee can invest a portion of his or her unused account dollars in a variety of stocks, bonds and mutual funds.

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How do employees manage their accounts?
Employees have access to myBlueCross, our online service center. There, they’ll find tools and health information to guide them when making decisions about health care. Questions about specific claims or account transactions can be answered by our dedicated account service representatives.

Online tools include:

  • Doctor and hospital profiles and quality ratings
  • Cost-of-care information
  • Drug cost calculator including brand-name and generic comparisons
  • Anytime access to account information, claims information, explanation of benefits forms and account withdrawal forms
  • E-mail access to customer service
  • Medical decision-making and personal health support

Why is consumer-directed important and why is it growing so fast?
Everyone is aware of the rising costs of health care. Businesses are struggling to maintain a quality health plan at an affordable price. There’s no single solution to the problem, but there is agreement that putting more responsibility for health care into the hands of the people who actually use it is a good start. A consumer-directed plan not only gives people more say in their health care, it raises awareness of the actual cost of doctor visits and procedures. That kind of attention will lead to a healthier, more informed consumer and, ultimately, to lower costs for everyone.

One reason for the growing popularity of consumer-directed plans is because it provides employers with an attractive alternative. Employers no longer have to raise an employee’s contribution to the premium, reduce benefits, or eliminate the health plan altogether. Consumer-directed plans also provide tax advantages for employers and employees.

How will I communicate this concept to employees?
Because this may be a new way of thinking for employees, we’ve created a number of tools to educate, engage and encourage them. Your employees may receive:

  • Open enrollment materials that provide a broad overview through tools like our planning guide
  • Member engagement CD-ROM that includes communication tools that you can use throughout the year to educate employees about health care costs
  • Our member guide that reviews all the components of Options Blue at a deeper level and provides contact information for further assistance. Employees receive this once they enroll in Options Blue.

 

Health support

Health Support works with your health plan to surround your employees with a rich network of services that can make a difference in their lives. See "Why Blue Cross" to learn more about Whole Person Health Support.

  • Group plans include these services
  • Opportunity score – assessment of health and gaps in care for all members
  • Online Health Assessment – at no additional fee; a vital first step in improving your people’s health
  • Online Health Coaching modules – for weight management, stress, smoking cessation and more, accessible to all Health Assessment participants
  • Access to Health Guides and Nurse Guides – new customer service approach extends members’ calls to improve experience
  • Dedicated Nurse outreach and active support – help for members at higher opportunity levels builds trust
  • Stop-Smoking Support – more than 1 in 3 enrollees quit successfully
  • Access to an abundance of web-based information and tools
  • Employee communication support and toolkits
  • Additional support to tailor to your group’s needs
  • Fitness Discounts* – more than 2,000 fitness centers to choose from 
  • Healthy Start® Prenatal Support* – 29% lower incidence of preterm births than national rates
  • Employee Assistance Program (EAP)* – users report satisfaction levels close to 90%
  • 24-Hour Nurse Advice Line* – has saved more than $2.70 for every dollar invested
  • Enhanced Stop-Smoking Support (with medications) – quit medications added to coaching double the chances of success
  • Health Incentives – we’ll work with you to design an approach to align with your goals
  • Telephone-based lifestyle coaching
  • Disability Solutions
  • Onsite Health Screenings
  • FluStop(SM)
  • Self-care guide
  • * These options are included at no additional fee for all fully insured groups. They are available at an additional fee for self-insured groups.

  • Other discounts and services included
  • Complementary care discounts
  • Laser vision correction surgery discount
  • Weight Watchers discounts
  •  

Information sources
Stop-Smoking Support: BluePrint for Health Stop-Smoking Program Quarterly Quit rate and Satisfaction Report, Free & Clear 2007.
Healthy Start prenatal support: National rates reported by the National Center for Health Statistics. Based on 2007 Healthy Start program outcomes in comparison to 2006 national outcomes from the National Center for Health Statistics.
Employee Assistance Program: Client satisfaction survey, 2008.
Enhanced Stop-Smoking Support: Internal Blue Cross program evaluation study, 2004-2005.