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PacifiCare’s New Self Directed Health ’I-Plan’ for Individuals Rewards California Consumers for Leading Healthier Lifestyles

CYPRESS, Calif., July 12 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Committed to offering "consumer-driven" health plans that provide individuals choice, flexibility and affordability, PacifiCare Health Systems Inc. is expanding its Self Directed Health Plan to include individual health care consumers in California.

The PacifiCare SignatureFreedom Self Directed Health I-Plan offers individuals the freedom and flexibility of a traditional PPO plan with the added feature of a Self Directed Account. This personal spending account of $1,000 per year is used to pay for covered health care expenses. Consumers may use money from their Self Directed Accounts to pay for eligible health care expenses until the account is exhausted. Unused dollars are rolled over from year to year.

Self Directed Health I-Plan enrollees have complete access to their claims history and Self Directed Account balances through the member portal at http://www.pacificare.com/. Enrollees may also access cost guides for prescription drug expenses and will soon have access to guides for hospital and physician expenses.

Enrollment information for the SignatureFreedom Self Directed Health I-Plan is available online at http://www.pacificare.com/ or by calling 800-577-0001.

Since their initial launch in January 2003, PacifiCare's SignatureFreedom Self Directed Health Plans for large and small businesses have empowered employees with greater independence by affording them direct control of their "personal" health care funds.

"Consumers who are having to share a greater cost of their health care are demanding flexibility, choice and control in how they allocate and spend their health care dollars," said Howard Phanstiel, PacifiCare's chairman and chief executive officer. "The response to our Self Directed Health Plans has been overwhelming, particularly among individual employees of small companies who are typically more price-sensitive when it comes to health insurance coverage."

According to Phanstiel, more than 90 percent of the small employers who chose Self Directed Health Plans are first-time PacifiCare customers. More than 10 percent of those employers had not been able to previously provide health care coverage for their employees.

"We believe that this product is helping California's small-business customers better address the cost of health care. Now, individual consumers may take advantage of the benefits of this product," Phanstiel added.

In addition, enrollees will have the opportunity to earn additional funds for their Self Directed Accounts by participating in PacifiCare's HealthCredits(SM) program, which allows members to earn an additional $100 each year by taking part in programs that improve their health. Introduced last fall, HealthCredits is an innovative program designed to reward members who utilize PacifiCare's health-management and award-winning disease-management programs to improve health via better diet, exercise, lifestyle and health care choices.

PacifiCare Health Systems is one of the nation's largest consumer health organizations with more than 3 million health plan members and approximately 9 million specialty plan members nationwide. PacifiCare offers individuals, employers and Medicare beneficiaries a variety of consumer-driven health care and life insurance products. Currently, more than 99 percent of PacifiCare's commercial health plan members are enrolled in plans that have received Excellent Accreditation by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). PacifiCare's specialty operations include behavioral health, dental and vision, and complete pharmacy and medical management through its wholly owned subsidiary, Prescription Solutions. More information on PacifiCare Health Systems is available at http://www.pacificare.com/.

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