The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) has teamed up with Visa USA in an agreement to offer co-branded debit cards to members of participating Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies. Several Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies are already offering the Blue-branded cards to their members.
“Card-based employee benefit programs are driving changes in the industry by providing employers increased employee enrollment, while giving consumers tax-advantaged savings and broader options for making the most of their healthcare dollars,” said Elizabeth Buse, executive vice president, product development and management, Visa USA, in a prepared statement. “This combined effort of BCBSA and Visa provides consumers more convenient access to medical savings accounts, helping both employers and employees save time and money.”
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The co-branded debit cards are part of a larger effort by BCBSA to provide consumers with the information and tools they need in order to make better healthcare decisions for themselves and their families. The Blue-branded debit cards provide consumers with easy access to funds in their health plan’s personal savings accounts for qualified medical expenses. Consumers having flexible spending accounts (FSAs), health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs) will be able to use the debit card to pay for healthcare related expenses.
“Debit cards reduce paperwork and help track individual and family healthcare expenses,” William J. Marino, president and CEO, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey said in a prepared statement announcing the co-branding agreement. “With this partnership, employers will be able to offer payment and convenience and more affordable healthcare benefits from two brands their employees have come to know and trust.”
In addition to the benefits to employees, the debit cards will also reduce the amount of paperwork and speed payment turnaround easing the administrative burdens on physicians and other healthcare providers. Employers offering the debit cards and related healthcare benefit plans, will also gain a competitive business advantage by offering more convenient and flexible payment options.
“This relationship with Visa will help consumers who want to actively control their healthcare spending,” Scott P. Serota, president and CEO, BCBSA said in a prepared statement. “Consumers want more control of their healthcare decisions, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies across the country are designing products that give consumers the tools they need to make more informed choices that lead to better and more affordable care.”