NU Online News Service, Oct. 25, 10:15 a.m. – Health care insurers CIGNA Healthcare, Philadelphia and Group Health Options, Seattle, have joined forces with benefits administrator BENU, Inc., San Mateo, Calif., to offer a broad range of health care benefits to midsize employers in Washington state.

The alliance aims to offer businesses with 100 to 1,000 employees the same choice of health care coverage that large companies offer, the companies say.

Employers in the BENU plan will be able to offer six medical plans, including defined-physician network plans, a preferred-provider organization and point-of-service plans, the companies say in announcing their new program. Employees would also be able to choose such other insurance products as dental, vision, life, and long- and short-term disability.

BENU has established a new unit, BENU Washington, to administer the plan for employers in the state.

Group Health Options, Incorporated, a subsidiary of Group Health Cooperative, will offer defined-physician network and point-of-service plans.

BENU says its plan will enable employers to set a fixed contribution to their benefit program while offering employees benefits they choose, the companies say. Administration of BENU Washington will be automated, eliminating much of the cost of offering multiple plans, the company points out.

BENU Washington initially will target employers and their employees in western Washington and the greater Spokane area, according to the announcement.