NU Online News Service, Sept. 16, 2003, 12:37 p.m. EDT – PacifiCare Health Systems Inc., Cypress, Calif., is now marketing its SignatureFreedom Self Directed Health Plan to small groups in Colorado.

The defined contribution health coverage program combines high-deductible preferred provider organization coverage with employee-controlled health accounts.

Employers can decide how much cash to put in the accounts. Employees can use the account funds to pay for routine health care along with services such as massage therapy.

PacifiCare also provides a prescription drug cost guide, and it says it will be adding expense guides for hospitals and physicians.

PacifiCare first introduced its defined contribution program in California in July 2003. The company hopes to make the plans available to small businesses in Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, Oklahoma, Texas and Washington by the end of the year.

In Colorado, the program will be open to employers with one to 50 employees.