Healthcare

More Choice for Self Directed Healthcare Plans

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Online access to health savings accounts (HSAs) and other consumer directed healthcare plans (CDHPs) is maturing as the marketplace for these products grows, and banks can now compete to offer custodian services, deliver new products and allow consumers to view account information and conduct transactions via holistic platforms on the Web.

"A lot of banks are looking for the whole package, they don't want to deal with multiple healthcare technology vendors," says Kunal Pandya, a senior healthcare analyst at Aite.

A crowded field of service providers is emerging, including FIS, ConnectYourCare, Lighthouse Infomatics and PayFlex, which just upgraded its roster of offerings to include a custodian agnostic platform and speedy plan enrollment for employers, and is interested in selling a white label end-to-end platform to banks.

"The technology allows [employers] to dictate where they would like to park deposits or store the deposits at the custodian of their choice," says Rob Butler, president of PayFlex, which has about 50 financial clients as well as employer clients. PayFlex's new "custodian agnostic" product uses an internal sub-accounting engine that allows the tech firm to make some interest calculations and administrative tasks connected to the CDHP, functions traditionally performed by a dedicated bank, making it much easier for that bank to become the custodian. Since most newer platforms offer some level of "custodian choice," the emerging strategy for banks is to compete for custodian business as part of a broad suite of CDHP services via the Web.

PayFlex's expanded platform also includes account reconciliation, an account investment platform, an integrated reimbursement platform, a Web interface for employers, issuance of debit cards for accessing funds, a payments platform and delivery of account statements. The firm also has a connection to LexisNexis, which allows the tech company to minimize paperwork and issue plan debit cards quickly, in a few moments as opposed the normal span of several days.

The firm's upgrades, particularly those impacting Web account access, were made possible in part by its February purchase of technology assets from the defunct vendor Canopy after that firm filed for bankruptcy amid discoveries that $19 million in customer funds were allegedly misappropriated. "Canopy was a company with fantastic technology that had other trouble," says Butler. PayFlex did not identify banks that had been chosen by business clients by using the new custodian product.The firm also recently introduced a mobile app that allows consumers to access HSA and other consumer direct health plan information.

Since CDHPs are still a relatively new business line for banks, there's also pressure on tech firms to offer Web platforms that are easy to deploy and use. "We haven't had to do a lot of tech work on our end," says Nathan Monson, avp and product manager for Zions Bank, which offers ConnectYourCare's consumer direct CDHP platform. "We sell [CDHPs] through treasury management, but they're not like a lot of services that treasury management traditionally sells, like lockbox, positive pay, etc. What [ConnectYourCare] allows us to do is focus on selling."

ConnectYourCare manages the Zions Web platform that cardholders log into, as well as the employer portal for plan sponsors. Monson hopes the technology will make it easier for the bank's sales staff to climb only one learning curve when marketing custodian and other healthcare products. ConnectYourCare, whose clients also include UMB, has integrated its custodian technology into its core system, which manages all CDHP technology. "All health accounts can be integrated on the same platform and the same debit card," says Jamie Spriggs, CMO for ConnectYourCare, which also recently added additional decision support tools through a partnership with WebMD.

Another tech firm, FIS, recently integrated its suite of consumer direct healthcare products with IBS (an acquired core banking platform from Metavante) to give banks online visibility into consumer accounts, as well as other account services such as custodian services, debit cards, Web portals, deposit and investment technology. "An administrator may want to have a national brand like JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, as well as a local bank to act as a custodian," says Tom Torre, an svp and general manager for FIS, which has about 200 financial clients for its healthcare technology.

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