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WellChoice, Amex Offer Healthcare Credit Card

American Express and WellChoice team to offer participants in Empire Total Blue consumer-directed health plans a new payment option.

WellChoice (New York; $3.4 million in assets) and American Express (New York) will offer American Express HealthPay Plus Card, a healthcare payment solution for participants in Empire Total Blue's consumer-directed health plan. The card, provided by American Express Bank, provides two payment options. It is tied to both a Health Savings Account (HSA) and a line of credit to help cover costs that may exceed the balance of the HSA. The HSA also allow consumers to contribute pre-tax dollars to their medical expenses.

The card provides WellChoice's 40,000 members in the Empire Total Blue consumer-directed health plan with a single payment option at a healthcare provider, physician, pharmacy or hospital.

The card allows consumers, providers and insurers a secure and easy way to manage healthcare costs and payments, asserts Jason Gorevic, senior vice president chief sales and marketing officer of WellChoice. "A lot of innovations in consumer-directed healthcare have been adding features, but this solution solves real problems and delivers real value to both consumer and healthcare providers because of the integrated claim processing," he says.

According to Gorevic, WellChoice identified the need for the HealthPay Plus Card to engage consumers further into the financial decision-making process. The health insurer also set up the card because of consumer concerns over the administrative complexity of consumer-directed health plans. "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, who 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.

To enable a single-source solution, WellChoice integrated Empire Total Blue's claims processing with American Express payment processing. WellChoice incorporated the back-end processing systems that handle billing, as well as front-end consumer-facing Web tools, which deal with enrollment and claim filing. By combining WellChoice's and American Express' front-end capabilities, the companies have been able to make enrollment for the card convenient. "Both companies were very focused on this as a priority initiative and were able to bring the right resources to bear and deliver it in a relatively short amount of time given the complexity of the integration," says Gorevic.

By simplifying the payment process, the solution also enables providers to save on billing and collection costs. American Express and WellChoice will offer the healthcare payment card to corporations in January 2006.


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