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H$As: Sharing

Health savings accounts offer rich opportunities for banks willing and able to make the investment necessary for seamless systems integration with health insurer partners.

Prior to engaging JPMC as a partner in its HSA-related strategy, Cigna -- a client of the bank -- determined that the best offering for its employer health plan market was an integrated HSA solution. Cigna sought to provide its customers with a solution that offered a seamless experience for members accessing healthcare, performing transactions and navigating between the insurance and banking realms associated with HSAs, according to Jake Biscoglio, head of consumer product development and innovation, Cigna. "We then asked, 'Do we do this on our own, or do we partner with a financial services company?'" Biscoglio relates. "Research told us that consumers saw more value in having a financial services company hold their money ... and provide earnings opportunities on their money."

Cigna chose to engage JPMC as a partner based on the appeal of the banking brand to the insurer's customers, as well as a shared commitment to an integrated model, Biscoglio adds. The partnership's HSA went live Jan. 1, 2005.

"We made a very conscious decision in going to market that we needed to work with insurance companies like Cigna in order to make sure that the end customers' experience of accessing their healthcare benefit -- not simply accessing a financial account -- was as smooth and seamless as possible," says JPMC's Josephs. "Cigna has capabilities to provide healthcare benefits to employers and individuals that the bank has no interest in developing." JPMC contributes "our transaction processing, our experience with debit cards, our experience being a custodian and trustee of accounts, and our ability to provide and administer a range of investment options," Josephs adds.

The partnership's concept of integration is, Cigna's Biscoglio emphasizes, "to make it as easy as possible for individuals to utilize their account, interact with it and get their questions answered."

Delivering on that principle meant providing real-time access for customer service reps at Cigna to be able to look into JPMC systems for information such as account balances and latest transactions, Josephs explains. "We also created single sign-on, which required a decent amount of effort on the part of organizations that are in highly secured industries," he says. "We worked together to make sure that as people access their information at the health plan, they can jump to JPMorgan Chase pages in order to do that."

The companies also built the capability to provide updates to Cigna so that account balances could be viewed in juxtaposition to medical benefit information. Links also were built for claims forwarding, enabling Cigna to query individual HSA accounts to determine whether the balance was sufficient for a given charge. "To make that happen quickly and efficiently required the establishing of communications through the security layers of both organizations," Josephs says.

Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio

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