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Aligning on Payments

A new payment card from WellChoice and American Express adds dimension to consumer-directed health plans.

WellChoice (New York; $3.4 million in assets) and American Express (New York) have teamed to offer the American Express HealthPay Plus Card, a healthcare payment solution for participants in Empire Total Blue's consumer-directed health plan (CDHP). The card, issued by American Express Bank, provides WellChoice's 40,000 Empire Total Blue CDHP members with a single payment option at a healthcare provider, physician, pharmacy or hospital. It is tied to a line of credit as well as a health savings account (HSA) to help cover costs that may exceed the balance of the HSA.

The card offers consumers, providers and insurers a secure and easy way to manage healthcare costs and payments, asserts Jason Gorevic, SVP, chief sales and marketing officer, WellChoice. "This solution ... delivers real value to both consumers and healthcare providers because of the integrated claim processing," he says.

According to Gorevic, WellChoice created the HealthPay Plus Card to engage consumers further in the financial decision-making process. The insurer also set up the card to address consumer concerns over the administrative complexity of CDHPs. "Matching up an explanation of benefits with a bill from a provider, accessing the funds and deciding where the funds are going to come from concerned the consumer," explains Gorevic. Furthermore, providers that are used to receiving co-pays expressed concern about collection. "We identified that a single-source solution addressed these barriers to consumer-directed healthcare," notes Gorevic. And, by simplifying the payment process, the solution enables providers to save on billing and collection costs, he adds.

To enable a single-source solution, WellChoice integrated Empire Total Blue's claims processing with American Express' payment processing, including back-end systems that handle billing and front-end, consumer-facing Web tools that deal with enrollment and claim filing. By combining front-end capabilities, the companies have been able to simplify enrollment. American Express and WellChoice begins offering the healthcare payment card to corporations in January 2006.

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