TSYS Healthcare will issue network-branded cards and process the card transactions under a deal the Total Systems Services Inc. unit reached with Acclaris Inc.

Tampa, Fla.-based Acclaris' private labeled cloud technology powers consumer-driven health care programs, including health savings accounts, flexible spending accounts and health care reimbursement accounts. Through its relationships with third-party administrators and business-process outsourcing companies, Acclaris serves more than 15,000 employers and 1.8 million active accountholders.

With the employer open enrollment process for insurance coverage for next year starting soon, TSYS Healthcare will support Acclaris' clients with cards that route transactions through the Visa or MasterCard networks, Trey Jinks, TSYS Healthcare group executive, said in an interview.

TSYS Healthcare will process the card transactions, but Acclaris, through its clients, will provide the account and insurance adjudication services, he says. Financial terms of the deal, announced Aug. 13, were not disclosed.

Jinks declined to name the issuer TSYS will use for the card initiative, and he declined to make near-term predictions on how many cards TSYS hopes to issue and process under the agreement.

Acclaris and TSYS had no previous working relationship, Jinks says.

"We've been talking for a while and came to the point where things got into alignment, and we struck a good partnership and are looking to grow that partnership," he says.

An Acclaris spokeswoman declined to comment on the deal, saying "this is a very new relationship for us, and we still need to be respectful of our other client relationships." But in a press release Aug. 13, Bob Lopes, the company's CEO, said the market demands options and flexibility.

"The partnership with TSYS will continue to strengthen and provide flexibility to an already robust product offering from Acclaris," he said.

Whereas most health savings accounts today are tied to cards for access, about half of flexible spending accounts and 20% of health care reimbursement accounts are, Jinks noted.

Accounts not tied to cards generally rely on checks, which can be costly for plan administrators to deliver and process.

"We're seeing more card penetration to gain efficiency, and we see that as a continuing trend," Jinks says.

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