Monday, September 04, 2006

Kaiser Permanente California to Offer Health Savings Accounts in 2007

Supporters of Health Savings Accounts have concentrated on a few key advantages. The most frequently cited advantage is that HSAs are tax-free. This is true; Health Savings Accounts are tax-free when used for qualified medical expenses. Which products and services are considered qualified medical expenses? That is the sole responsibility of the consumer to determine.

Latest CDHC Product Emphasizing Prevention & Consumer Engagement

Kaiser Permanente today announced the launch of Custom Care HealthInvestor (HSA), (Health Savings Account) in its California regions. The new offering will be effective January 1, 2007.

The California regions now join Georgia, Colorado, Mid-Atlantic States, and the Northwest regions in offering HealthInvestor (HSA) products which pair a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) with a health savings account option. HealthInvestor (HSA), the latest offering in the Custom Care consumer directed health care suite of products, complements the recently announced (May 2006) Custom Care HealthBuilder (HRA) and the current deductible HMO. It is available to individuals, employers, and their employees.

HealthInvestor (HSA) is a comprehensive package of services and tools that include:
HSA-qualified high deductible health plans with lower premiums; CarePay health savings account with a range of investment options; Preventive and wellness services; Online support tools. Contributions to the CarePay HSA may be made by the employer, the member, or both - similar to a 401K or IRA.

Funds can roll over year after year with no income limitations, are not taxed when they are used for qualified medical expenses, and the account is portable. A debit card is provided which allows convenient access to funds to pay for health care services. "HealthInvestor (HSA) offers convenience to the individual health care consumer, and also addresses the needs of employers who are looking for solutions that reduce their costs and help their employees stay healthy” stated Ted Wise, senior vice president, health plan strategy and product innovation.

“The ability of the individual to save for specific health care expenditures, to benefit from important tax advantages, and to have a portable account makes it easier for Kaiser Permanente members to save and pay for their health care expenses. It’s a win for everyone.” The introduction of HealthInvestor (HSA) in California is part of Kaiser Permanente’s evolving business strategy to better serve the changing needs of its customers and members by developing new products that are responsive to the marketplace.

Kaiser Permanente now offers an array of consumer directed health care products with a range of benefit design and financial account options that have the advantage of providing access to Kaiser Permanente’s unique integrated delivery system.

It is part of an overall strategy that includes a major investment in technology that advances its clinical, management and business systems; engages members in their own health care with sophisticated online health information, decision support tools, and discount programs. Preventive health and wellness services, for which the organization has long been known, are a key advantage of Kaiser Permanente’s Custom Care product suite– which includes HealthInvestor (HSA). A wide range of Healthy Living classes and programs are offered at local medical centers that include Stress Reduction, How to Live with Chronic Conditions, Smoking Cessation, Yoga, even Tai Chi. Discounts are available for massage therapy, acupuncture, and select fitness clubs.Online consumer support tools offer a broad array of assistance and services, and help to engage Kaiser Permanente members in making wise health care decisions.

Among the online tools available are: Decision support tools that help consumers better understand the cost of their health care decisions such as a sample fee list that provides pricing transparency; Financial management of individual health accounts; Health assessment tools offered through that include interactive health calculators designed to help members eat better and lose weight, reduce stress, stop smoking, access to health and drug encyclopedias, and online health topics with related links.

Kaiser Permanente is America’s leading integrated health plan. Founded in 1945, it is a not-for-profit, group practice program headquartered in Oakland, Calif. Kaiser Permanente serves more than 8.5 million members in nine states and the District of Columbia.

Today it encompasses the not-for-profit Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and their subsidiaries, and the for-profit Permanente Medical Groups. Nationwide, Kaiser Permanente includes approximately 154,000 technical, administrative and clerical employees and caregivers, and more than 12,000 physicians representing all specialties.

If you are considering a , it is extremely important that you thoroughly research your options in the interest of making an informed decision.