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Employers Offering More Health and Wellness Benefits

Employers are spending more on health and wellness benefits while decreasing the amount of spending on other types of benefits.  According to the Society of Human Resource Management's (SHRM) 2014 Employee Benefits report, 28% of employers have increased the benefits they have offered to employees in the last year. Employers are finding it crucial to maintain or increase key benefits in areas where costs are rising - which has mainly been healthcare and wellness. And decrease benefits like undergraduate tuition, personal car use for business purposes reimbursements, and long-term care insurance.

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Walk-In Health Care Clinics, like CVS/pharmacy's MinuteClinic, on the Rise

It's no secret, people get sick and when battling a painful sore throat or ear infection waiting is NOT an option. Hence the growing popularity of walk-in health care clinics. CVS/pharmacy, the largest retail clinic operator in the Washington area, has more than 800 clinics nationwide, with plans to add more that 150 additional clinics by the end of 2014.
So what's the driving force? Several factors come into play fueling the trend of these walk-in health care clinics, one of which is the Affordable Care Act...sound familiar, you may have heard of it? With millions now being provided insurance through Medicaid, private plans or under their parents plans until age 26, getting in to see your primary care doctor quickly will be more difficult. This, along with a number of other factors, has allowed the perfect forum for retail clinics, like MinuteClinic, to take center stage. The clinics are staffed by nursed practitioners and physicians assistants and can treat anything from pink eye to strep throat, to sinus infections and minor injuries. Gift cards are even available at all 800 MinuteClinic locations and discounts are available on volume purchases. Learn more about buying MinuteClinic gift cards and giving the gift of health
here. Read more from The Washington Post about the growing trend of health care clinics
here.

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2013 Consumer Gift Card Attitudes Survey

Gift cards are a hot topic when it comes to corporate rewards, employee incentives, customer loyalty, fundraising programs and more. Still many are asking, “Are gift cards the right choice?”
The Retail Gift Card Association answers the question with the strong YES, according to the findings in their most recent survey. The survey asked over 1,000 consumers about their attitudes, behaviors and preferences when it comes to both receiving and giving gift cards. Here are a few interesting statistics that encompass the over feeling towards the plastic money gift:

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New Regulations Encourage Use of Carrots and Sticks in Employee Health and Wellness

New regulations have recently taken effect as part of the Affordable Care Act allowing employers providing health care benefits to employees to steer their workforce toward healthier lifestyles and away from disease causing habits. The new rules enforced last week as part of the law by the Obama Administration guide employees through a classic carrot and stick rewards program. Employees who participate in wellness programs, set goals to live a healthier life, and work towards those goals can be rewarded both financially and with non-monetary rewards, while employees who continue to exhibit unhealthy behaviors; or who not working to eliminate preventable conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol can be penalized similarly. Any outcome based program such as smoking cessation or weight loss programs are often required to have a "cycle of failure and renewed effort" to give employees multiple chances to achieve their goals. These new rules reinforce the effectiveness of the carrot and stick reward/disincentive strategy, rewarding good behavior and penalizing bad behavior. It shows that strategy is financially sound for any size business and can in fact help manage the ever-rising cost of providing health care benefits. Finding rewards that fit each occassion and have value for your employees is key to programmatic success. Gift cards are a great way to fix cost while providing a choice for employees. Using gift cards allow an employee to choose a brand that they value and will use. For health and wellness programs providing a variety of health and wellness retailers such as NutriSystem, GNC, and CVS/Pharmacy show employees that their employer is supportive of their concerted effort to live a healthy lifestyle. Equally important is finding the balance in the disincentives handed out to employees who do not participate in health and wellness programs. The sticks cannot be so big that it makes and employee unhappy with the organization, or makes them wholly averse to ever participating. The stick should be big enough to push employees in a healthier direction. A widely used disincentive is a higher monthly premium for employees not enrolled in the program- encouraging employees to take the step without turning them off totally.

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Medicaid Incentives for Prevention of Chronic Diseases Program

The Affordable Care Act was signed by President Obama in 2010. Since its implementation, a number of programs have been developed in an effort to strengthen Medicaid and Medicare by lowering costs and improving the quality of care for millions of Americans.

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