NU Online News Service, Oct. 14, 2003, 11:35 a.m. EDT – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, N.C., has started selling Freedom Account health reimbursement arrangement accounts with its Blue Options PPO health plan.

After employers fund the accounts, employees can choose their own level of PPO office visit co-pays, deductibles, coinsurance and prescription drug co-pays, North Carolina Blue says.

Employees who want to buy extra benefits can do so through a payroll deduction system.

Employees who have cash left over in the Freedom Account HRAs at the end of the year can keep the cash in the HRAs till the following year without paying extra federal income taxes, North Carolina Blue says.

North Carolina Blue hopes to move some groups to the new plan design by March 31, 2004, and ramp up HRA sales later in the year.