The Freedom Account is available to participants in the Blue Options PPO plan and allows consumers, using funds provided by their employers, to shop for the Blue Options plan design that best meets their needs, according to a news release. This is done through a three step process:
- Employers fund a personal Freedom Account for each employee, which employees will use to buy their own customized plans.
- Consumers take the funds provided to them in their personal Freedom Account and shop for benefits among the options available to them.
- If employees want to purchase benefits that cost more than the amount in their Freedom Account, they can purchase additional benefits via payroll deduction.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina plans to move select groups to the new plan design in the first quarter of 2004. The company plans to begin broad sales of the Freedom Account in the second quarter of 2004.