Maine, California Get New HSA Options

October 13, 2004 ( - It may be that the only thing Maine and California had in common before today was that they were both leaning blue in the upcoming Presidential election, but, as of now, they share another common factor: new health savings account (HSA) opportunities from Blue Shield.

In California, Blue Shield  announced that it has selected Wells Fargo Institutional Trust Services to administer the plans for eligible members. Members can now open tax-preferred HSA accounts and have the ability to manage their HSA funds in interest-bearing accounts in the bank, with additional investment opportunities, Blue Shield said in a press release. Customers will also be able to access health care debit cards linked to their accounts, manage their accounts online, and access customer services. There is no set-up fee associated with the plan.

In Maine, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield introduced Anthem ByDesign HSAs, available to employer groups in Maine starting on January 1. The product consists of a preferred-provider organization (PPO) and a high-deductible health plan that will be coupled with an account that allows participants to use checks and debit cards to pay for medical expenses that qualify under the plan.

In addition to the California offering, Blue Shield is introducing four new high-deductible group health plans that are compatible with HSAs. This offering is an extension of current plans that differ by the size of employer and family members covered.

HSAs will take effect come January 1 and were instituted as part of the Medicare Prescription Drug and Modernization Act of December, 2003. They call for the combination of a tax-free account with a high-deductible health plan (the deductible being at $1,000 to $2,000, depending on family size). They have seen minimal enrollment numbers as of now, but are expected to become more popular when they take effect next year.