NU Online News Service, Aug. 15, 11:25 a.m. – Vivius Inc., Minneapolis, is setting up a defined-contribution health coverage program in Colorado.

The new MMA Select program will begin providing coverage for workers in the Denver, Boulder and Longmont areas Jan. 1, 2003, the company says.

Employers that buy Vivius coverage contribute a set amount of cash into employees’ personal health accounts to help them pay for medical coverage.

Employees then go online to choose their own co-payment levels and pick their own networks of doctors and hospitals.

The program is different from standard defined-contribution programs because it gives employees access to conventional health coverage, rather than forcing them to make do with catastrophic coverage, Vivius says.

Vivius obtained the doctors and hospitals for the Colorado program by forming a joint venture with Mountain Medical Affiliates Inc., Greenwood Village, Colo., a preferred provider organization that markets the services of 2,700 Colorado doctors.

Vivius started a similar program, the USelect program, in April in Spokane, Wash. Vivius is working with Health Net Life Insurance Company, a unit of Health Net Inc., Los Angeles, to run the Spokane program.

All of the hospitals and more than 90% of the doctors in the Spokane area have agreed to accept USelect patients, Vivius says.