Nearly 85,000 Members Enrolled In PacifiCare's Innovative Self Directed Health Plan In Just Over A Year

CYPRESS, Calif., Jan. 31 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- In just over a year, the PacifiCare SignatureFreedom(SM) Self Directed Health Plan has attracted more than 5,000 employers in eight states, serving nearly 85,000 members.

The PacifiCare SignatureFreedom Self Directed Health Plan, introduced by PacifiCare Health Systems Inc. in August 2003, offers the freedom and flexibility of a traditional PPO plan with the added feature of a Self Directed Account. This personal spending account of $1,000 per year is used to pay for covered health care expenses. Enrollees may use money from their Self Directed Accounts to pay for eligible health care expenses until the account is exhausted. Unused dollars are rolled over from year to year.

"We are enthusiastic with the tremendous results SignatureFreedom has had in the marketplace, particularly among small businesses in a short time frame," said Howard Phanstiel, chairman and chief executive officer of PacifiCare Health Systems. "We've listened to small-business customers who told us they want their employees to have the kind of flexibility, choice and control in how they allocate and spend their health care dollars that employees with large companies have. Based on the riveting response to this fast-moving product, it's clear the PacifiCare SignatureFreedom Self Directed Health Plan is benefiting small businesses in their efforts to better address the cost of health care."

Phanstiel added: "Nearly 90 percent of the small businesses that chose Self Directed Health Plans are first-time PacifiCare customers. In addition, we have made quality health care coverage more affordable as more than 10 percent of those employers had not previously offered health care coverage for their employees."

"The PacifiCare SignatureFreedom Self Directed Health Plan was the exact solution we were looking for," said Teresa Hyde, office manager at AK Industries, based in Torrance, Calif. "Faced with rising premiums and demand for flexibility and control from our employees, we found that the SignatureFreedom Plan is easy to navigate and provides the right mix to satisfy all our employees' health care needs."

Small Group Self Directed Health Plan enrollees have complete access to their claims history and Self Directed Account balances through the member portal at http://www.pacificare.com/, including prescription drug claims and cost guides for prescription drug expenses. Enrollees also have access to PacifiCare's HealthCare Cost Estimator, a unique Web-based tool that provides cost ranges and information for 200 of the most common diseases, conditions and medical procedures.

In addition, enrollees have access to the same doctors and other health care providers as do members of PacifiCare's traditional PPO health plans. PacifiCare's QUALITY INDEX(R) profile for Physician Organizations provides enrollees a "report card" that rates contracted providers on various clinical and service measures. PacifiCare recently released its QUALITY INDEX(R) profile of Hospitals, a report card that rates the performance of academic and community hospitals in its networks in terms of quality of care and level of service.

PacifiCare Health Systems is one of the nation's largest consumer health organizations with more than 3 million health plan members and approximately 10 million specialty plan members nationwide. PacifiCare offers individuals, employers and Medicare beneficiaries a variety of consumer-driven health care and life insurance products. Currently, more than 99 percent of PacifiCare's commercial health plan members are enrolled in plans that have received Excellent Accreditation by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). PacifiCare's specialty operations include behavioral health, dental and vision, and complete pharmacy benefit management through its wholly owned subsidiary, Prescription Solutions. More information on PacifiCare Health Systems is available at pacificare.com.

PacifiCare Health Systems Inc.

CONTACT: media relations, Cheryl Randolph of PacifiCare Health SystemsInc., +1-714-226-3441, Cheryl.Randolph@phs.com

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