Independence Blue Cross, one of the nation's largest "Blues," on Friday unveiled a new defined contribution health plan for small businesses.

The plan, according to the company, is "designed to help small businesses control their health care budgets while giving their employees a greater variety of health plan options and an easy-to-use online shopping experience."

Available for companies with from two to 99 employees, the Blue Solutions coverage products differs from previous employer plans in three significant ways:

  • Defined contribution amount. The employer determines the amount it wants to contribute toward each employee's benefits.
  • Multiple plan options. The employer selects multiple health plans from a portfolio of 27 Blue Solutions Choice plans. Choices include copay, deductible, health reimbursement account (HRA) compatible, and health savings account (HSA)-qualified products.
  • Easy-to-use online shopping tool. Each employee logs in to a customized, secure, user-friendly website and chooses the health plan that best suits his or her needs. The online shopping experience was designed to be similar to an online retail or travel site.

Plans will offer prescription medication benefits through Blue's partner, FutureScripts, and vision care through another partner, Davis Vision.

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Dan Cook

Dan Cook is a journalist and communications consultant based in Portland, OR. During his journalism career he has been a reporter and editor for a variety of media companies, including American Lawyer Media, BusinessWeek, Newhouse Newspapers, Knight-Ridder, Time Inc., and Reuters. He specializes in health care and insurance related coverage for BenefitsPRO.