Ebix Inc. says it can offer shareholders of Healthaxis Inc. a better deal than BPO Management Services Inc. has offered them.

BPO, Anaheim, Calif., a business support services company, announced in September that it would be acquiring Healthaxis, Irving, Texas, a health plan support services company through a stock swap.

BPO shareholders would end up with 80% of the combined company, and Healthaxis shareholders would end up with a 20% stake, BPO and Healthaxis said at the time.

The combined companies have a combined market capitalization value of about $5 million

Ebix, Atlanta, a software and electronic services company that controls AnnuityNet, says it will give Healthaxis shareholders a choice between getting paid in Ebix stock or in cash.

Ebix will use special puts to protect the value of its stock for Healthaxis shareholders who decided to take Ebix stock rather than cash, Ebix says.

Ebix describes its offer in a press release that includes the text of a letter that Ebix Chairman Robin Raina sent to the HealthAxis board.

In the letter, Ebix says its employee benefits division has lured away a Healthaxis customer that accounts for 17% of Healthaxis revenue.

Ebix notes that it could save money if it acquired Healthaxis by combining some Healthaxis operations in Pennsylvania with the operations of its own Pittsburgh-based EbixHealth subsidiary.