NU Online News Service, June 11, 10:59 a.m. Regence BlueShield, Seattle, Wash., has teamed up with MyHealthBank, Portland, Ore., to offer a defined-contribution, self-directed health-benefits service to more than 1.5 million employees in Washington who work for employers with 50 or more employees. The MyHealthBank option will become available to employers statewide beginning Aug. 1, 2001.

MyHealthBank says the new service will help employers in the state of Washington to stabilize their benefit expenditures in the face of double-digit premium increases in the past few years.

With MyHealthBank, employers make a defined contribution to each employee for health benefits. Funds not spent on health insurance are placed in a pre-tax, accruable account, and those funds can then be used on any medical expense such as deductibles, co-pays, eyeglasses and orthodontics. All health insurance plans are underwritten by Regence BlueShield.

MyHealthBank has partnerships with a variety of health insurers to provide employers with an Internet-based, defined contribution benefit service giving employees and their families better control of the health benefits and care they receive.

Regence BlueShield, one of the leading health plans in Washington, provides health care coverage to more than 1 million members.