Amid repeated calls from lawmakers for a shift from employer- to consumer-driven medical coverage, health insurer Cigna this week announced plans to expand its line of health savings accounts for small businesses.
The Bloomfield, Conn.-based firm had previously reserved the plans for larger companies.
The plans, which are now being offered to businesses with just 51-200 employees, enable individual workers to create personal tax-free savings accounts for regular medical needs, on top of other insurance coverage for emergencies.
Cigna is initially rolling out the plans for businesses in New York, Florida, Texas, and 10 other states, before offering them nationwide later this year.
"Small-business employers have told us they want the same flexibility, savings, integration, and consumer-focused approaches" as larger companies, Dennis Wilson, head of Cigna's small-business division, said in a statement.
A recently as Thursday, President Bush pledged to raise the cap on maximum tax-free deposits for health savings accounts, or HSAs, which is currently about $2,700 per individual.
"Small businesses can save money with this plan," Bush told small-business owners gathered in Washington on Thursday for National Small Business Week.
Bush said the number of HSAs has grown from 1 million to more than 3 million in the last three years alone. About a third of those plans were taken out by employees who were previously uninsured, he said.