The Hartford Makes Flexible Spending Accounts More Attractive to Consumers with Debit Card Technology

Employees Simply Swipe at Point of Purchase to Reap Benefits of Flexible


Sep 23, 2004, 01:00 ET from The Hartford

    SIMSBURY, Conn., Sept. 23 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- The Hartford Financial
 Services Group (NYSE:   HIG) now offers easy access to Flex Convenience(R), a
 Flexible Spending Account (FSA) program available to The Hartford's group
 life, accident and disability insurance customers. The service, available
 through Medical Group Insurance Services, Inc. (MGIS)(1) features innovative
 debit card technology that helps employees who want a convenient way to manage
 the skyrocketing costs of medical and dependent day care.
     "As out-of-pocket medical costs continue to climb, Flex Convenience is an
 effective way to help employees keep these costs in line. The ease and
 convenience of a plastic debit card provides a substantial benefit for our
 customers and their employees who want to take advantage of their flexible
 spending account without lots of burdensome paperwork," said Dick Mucci,
 executive vice president and director of The Hartford's Group Benefits
 Division. "Furthermore, the ability to simply swipe a card at the point of
 purchase helps alleviate employees' fear of losing unspent FSA funds, which
 currently do not roll over from year to year," he said.
     Ron Weltmann, CEO of MGIS added, "The advantages of the debit card are so
 compelling that we have seen employee participation increase as much as 300
 percent over a traditional flexible spending account. Employees can pay for
 expenses at the point of service without paying out of pocket, submitting
 claim forms and waiting for reimbursement," he said.
     Funds deposited into an employee's flexible spending account are not
 subject to federal income tax and may be used to pay for qualified medical and
 dependent care expenses. Eligible medical expenses include co-payments,
 orthodontia, eyeglasses and over-the-counter medicines such as antacids, pain
 relievers, allergy and cold medicines.
     Flex Convenience also offers the potential for cost savings to employers
 who make it available to their employees. Each dollar that employees
 contribute to the flexible savings accounts is exempt from employer FICA
 taxes, which may produce a net positive cash flow to a company's bottom line
 after administrative costs.
     Mucci sees a unique opportunity for many small and medium sized employers
 who will be offering FSAs to their employees for the first time. "Introducing
 Flex Convenience in combination with other voluntary benefits is a great
 opportunity for employers, who can help their employees save on taxes, while
 also making available to them important life, accident and disability
 protection they might not otherwise have considered for themselves," Mucci
     The percentage of employers offering FSAs to their employees is expected
 to increase from 56 percent to 93 percent by 2010 according to Hewitt
 Associates. While more than 90 percent of large employers already offer paper-
 based FSAs, many are switching debit card programs to increase employee
 participation and tax savings.
     The Hartford is one of the nation's largest financial services and
 insurance companies, with 2003 revenues of $18.7 billion.  The company is a
 leading provider of investment products, life insurance and group benefits;
 automobile and homeowners products; and business property-casualty insurance.
 The Hartford's Internet address is
     (1) FSA administration services are provided and sold by Medical Group
 Insurance Services, Inc. (MGIS), one of the nation's largest insurance and
 benefits providers to the healthcare industry and a pioneer in the use of
 debit card technology for FSAs. Flex Convenience is a registered mark of MGIS.
 To learn more about MGIS and Flex Convenience, go to
     Some of the statements in this release may be considered forward-looking
 statements as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.
 The Hartford cautions investors that these forward-looking statements are not
 guarantees of future performance, and actual results may differ materially.
 Investors should consider the important risks and uncertainties that may cause
 actual results to differ.  These important risks and uncertainties include
 those discussed in The Hartford's Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, our 2003
 Annual Report on Form 10-K and the other filings we make with the Securities
 and Exchange Commission.  The Hartford assumes no obligation to update this
 release, which speaks as of the date issued.

SOURCE The Hartford