NU Online News Service, Oct. 8, 10:00 p.m. Regence BlueShield of Idaho and Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah have partnered with MyHealthBank to offer defined-contribution, self-directed health benefit options to employers in their states. The product will be available in both states as of Jan. 1, 2002.

MyHealthPlan, based in Portland, Ore., says the option is aimed to meet a growing employer demand for a greater choice of benefits for their employees. The self-directed option relieves employers from having to select a “one-size-fits-all” plan for their employees without greatly increasing their benefit premiums year to year.

The product enables employees to take a financial contribution from their employer and allocate it to a health benefit option and a pre-tax accruable health care account. Employees can spend these dollars on any out-of-pocket medical expenses, such as office copayments or alternative care not covered by their health benefit plan.

The Regence Group’s affiliates in the states of Washington and Oregon have previously announced alliances with MyHealthPlan.

Regence Blue Shield of Idaho, based in Lewiston, provides health benefits to nearly 275,000 members. Its sister company in Utah, based in Salt Lake City, covers 600,000 members.