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What You Need to Know About the 2015 Flu Season

2015 Flu Season

The 2015 Flu season is still a few months away, but now is a great time to start getting prepared. Every year the United States experiences an epidemic of seasonal flu. While flu season peaks in the winter months, flu outbreaks can happen as early as October and can last all the way into May.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends a yearly flu vaccination for everyone 6 months of age and older. This is the first and most important step to protecting oneself from this very serious disease. People should start getting vaccinated as soon as the flu shot becomes available. Many flu shot providers receive the vaccine as early as July or August. The CDC encourages getting the shot preferably by October. But as long as the flu virus is spreading, it’s not too late to get vaccinated.

The flu shot has become easy to obtain. Even without insurance or appointment, CVS/pharmacy offers adolescent, adult, & senior flu shots right in the store while CVS/minute clinic locations offer all that and pediatric flu shots as well. All vaccines are administered by a certified immunizing pharmacist or through a nurse practitioner or physician assistant at Minute Clinic locations.

Now available for the 2015 Flu Season, the CVS/pharmacy® Flu Shot eGift Card!

Together with CVS/pharmacy we are excited to offer the CVS/pharmacy® Flu Shot e-Gift Card. It’s the perfect addition to a variety of corporate wellness programs, regardless of the budget. Cards are available at a discount when purchased in bulk. Learn more. Keep your workforce healthy this season; click here to learn more about the CVS/pharmacy® Flu Shot e-Gift Card and how it can fit into your program.

In addition to vaccination this flu season, the CDC also offers these 6 valuable tips to helping prevent the flu and follow the CDC on twitter for updates during the flu season.

If you want to learn more on how to incorporate the flu shot into your workplace wellness program, the latest trends in health & wellness, and more tips to engage your employees?

Check out the August Edition of our CVS/pharmacy Newsletter.
CVS/pharmacy August 2015 Newsletter

Jennifer DiPietro has been managing B2B gift card programs since 2010. A lover of social media, she has recently decided to get back into blogging as well as delve deeper into the world of marketing. Native to New England, she enjoys the beauty of the coast, but also loves the cold, snowy winters. She is obsessed with Boston sports and the Denver Broncos.

Employee Wellness Is Now Company Culture

employee-wellness

Employee wellness initiatives have taken many forms over the last 5-10 years. They have ranged from biometric screenings to company exercise groups to discounts on health insurance. Each company does it differently, depending on what is most effective for their specific organization. But according to this Washington Post article, employee wellness is taking a new turn and it’s compelling for both employers and employees.

Employee wellness is becoming part of company culture. With a growing millennial component to the American workforce, employers are focusing on enticing younger employees with perks and attractive cultural components in the work environment. Wellness programs are shifting to be a component of these types of company culture and positioning efforts.

So what does it mean for employers? How can they measure ROI when they take tangible metrics and transition them into the “intangible benefits” so important to difficult-to-please millennial? Here are a few ways:

  • Maintaining a healthy workforce- Active meetings, walk breaks, lunch workouts and organized company sports are great ways to keep your staff healthy without telling them to lose 10 pounds or lower their cholesterol by 20 points.
  • Maintaining a happy workforce- When millennial find what they are looking for in an employer they tend to be very loyal and more likely to really invest themselves in their workplace. Give the people what they want and you will see ROI, reduced turnover and motivated people.
  • Less invasion of privacy- Traditional employee wellness initiatives have raised concerns over employee privacy. By providing optional but enticing wellness options you can avoid getting too involved in employees’ medical records and biometric measurements.

So maybe employees wellness remains an initiative, but is presented as a perk, rather than a measurement that an employees’ benefits depend on.


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Rachel Merkin is a digital marketing professional. She has been exploring the worlds of social media and B2B gift cards since 2006. When she is not blogging, tweeting, or finding ways to leverage Facebook as a marketing tool, she spends as much time at the beach as she can.

Early Adopters Respond Favorably to Wellness Programs

woman-runningEmployees who engage with wellness programs earlier respond more favorably and are healthier in the long term than employees who engage with wellness programs later. Biometric screenings provide gateway to early engagement, and provide an important opportunity to use incentives as carrot rewards for plan participation and healthier readings.

Of the participants who received program incentives before their screenings,

  • 7% were being treated for diabetes
  • 14% were being treated for high blood pressure
  • 19% were being treated for high cholesterol

In contrast, among those who first completed a biometric screening and had to work for incentives,

  • 5% were being treated for diabetes
  • 10% were being treated for high blood pressure
  • 15% were being treated for high cholesterol

This is further proof for the long time theory that carrot rewards work well in motivating employees to reach specific, measurable goals. Having a goal and reward in mind helps motivate employees and keeps them on a healthy track. Healthy employees leads to increased productivity at work and lower healthcare costs for employers and employees over time.

Knowing your workplace population is extremely important when designing health and wellness programs. Identify who is first to sign on to health and wellness programs, then design incentive plans and rewards to encourage the least healthy employees to join the program and begin their climb to a healthy lifestyle.

Rachel Merkin is a digital marketing professional. She has been exploring the worlds of social media and B2B gift cards since 2006. When she is not blogging, tweeting, or finding ways to leverage Facebook as a marketing tool, she spends as much time at the beach as she can.

New Medicaid Stage 3 Proposed Rule Released

medicaid stage 3

Logo Courtesy of www.cms.gov

Medicaid Stage 3 rules proposed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) are meant to help drive higher quality, yet more cost effective care for Medicaid. These rules help improve the way providers are paid and bolster better information sharing. The new Medicaid Stage 3 meaningful use rule proposed by CMS seek to give providers more flexibility, simplify programs, drive interoperability among electric health records and put focus on improving patient outcomes.

CMS touts the proposed rule’s flexibility, pointing to simplified requirements for providers that keep a focus on advancing the use of electronic health records and the rule scraps box-checking requirements that are no longer relevant.

Officials say Stage 3’s scope is limited to 2017 and beyond. CMS is eyeing additional changes to existing meaningful rules in 2015 through separate rulemaking. The comment periods for Stage 3 and the 2015 Edition criteria end May 29, 2015.

Click here to read more about the Stage 3 proposed rule.

Jennifer DiPietro has been managing B2B gift card programs since 2010. A lover of social media, she has recently decided to get back into blogging as well as delve deeper into the world of marketing. Native to New England, she enjoys the beauty of the coast, but also loves the cold, snowy winters. She is obsessed with Boston sports and the Denver Broncos.

Healthy Workplace Programs Reduce Obesity

Healthy Workplace Programs

A recent study, led by an associate professor at the University of Rochester, finds that providing healthy workplace programs reduced the number of overweight or obese employees by almost 9%. The study was based on two years of research, studying almost 3,800 employees. The researchers instituted workplace programs to promote healthy eating and exercise at half of the work sites and no healthy programs at the other half.

The test group that had implemented healthy workplace programs promoted things such as revamped cafeteria offerings with fewer calories and smaller portions, free meals to those who made healthy food choices, workshops to share healthy recipes, walking clubs, upgraded gym facilities, and group activities.

Workplaces are great environments to modify food options and provide physical activity having the potential to reach a large number of adults. “This study shows in particular that when employees are empowered to help shape wellness programs, these programs appear to result in meaningful improvements to health” said Diana Fernandez, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., lead author of the study.

The study tracked the workers’ BMI at the beginning and end of the two-year program. The number of workers considered overweight or obese increased by 5% over the group that did not offer healthy programs in the workplace. While the test group that had healthy programs decreased those considered overweight or obese by 4% — a net difference of 9%.

The full article can be read here at Incentive Magazine. The full study can be downloaded for a fee at The American Public Health Association.

creating successful wellness incentives

Jennifer DiPietro has been managing B2B gift card programs since 2010. A lover of social media, she has recently decided to get back into blogging as well as delve deeper into the world of marketing. Native to New England, she enjoys the beauty of the coast, but also loves the cold, snowy winters. She is obsessed with Boston sports and the Denver Broncos.

Incentives in Wellness Programs Continue to Grow

incentives-in-wellness-programs

The use of incentives in wellness programs continues to increase, rising to 87% this year, up from 77% two years ago. According to Optum’s Fifth Annual Wellness in the Workplace Study, 90% of large employers now offer incentives. It comes as no surprise with employers seeing an increased urgency for results in employee engagement.

The Workplace Study is based on 545 employers that offer wellness programs of one kind or another. 60% of employers participating in the survey have at least 3,000 employees, 20% having between 100 and 2,999, and 20% have fewer than 100.

Here are some of the major highlights of the study:

  • 64% of large employers offer incentives to employee family members
  • 79% of wellness programs feature biometric screening, health challengers, health assessments, and smoking cessation
  • Between 50% and 66% of employers provide incentives for wellness coaching, health websites, disease management, and healthy pregnancy programs
  • 38% of employers contribute to HSAs, HRAs or HIAs
  • 34% of employers reduce health care premiums
  • 29% of employers offer gift cards
  • 16% of employers offer cash incentives
  • 57% of employers offer incentives for employees to complete a wellness program

Employee physical health is the most dominant focus of wellness programs, but an interesting 64% targeted on mental health, 35% on financial health, and 31% on social health.

Check out all the details of the Wellness in the Workplace Study by Optum Resource Center for Health & Wellness here.

Jennifer DiPietro has been managing B2B gift card programs since 2010. A lover of social media, she has recently decided to get back into blogging as well as delve deeper into the world of marketing. Native to New England, she enjoys the beauty of the coast, but also loves the cold, snowy winters. She is obsessed with Boston sports and the Denver Broncos.

EEOC Proposes Rules For Workplace Wellness

workplace wellness

Image courtesy of govloop.com

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (or EEOC) released their anticipated proposed rules regarding how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to workplace wellness programs. While rules are not yet in their final form and employers are not required to comply just yet, the EEOC states that employers are free to comply with the proposed rules now to reduce any risk until the final rules are issued, which is anticipated to be later this year.

Here are the highlights of the proposed rules:

  1. Alignment with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) incentive rules.  The ADA would permit financial incentives for wellness programs as long as the incentive does not exceed 30% of the cost of employee coverage.
  2. Employers may not deny or limit coverage for nonparticipants in an employee wellness program.
  3. Group health plan wellness programs that collect medical information must provide employees with a notice. The notice must be written in an understandable manner and describe how the information will be used and how the employer will prevent improper disclosure of medical information.
  4. Employers and vendors must protect confidentiality of health information that is collected through wellness programs. Employers should be within the rules of HIPAA privacy.
  5. The EEOC expects employers and vendors to have clear privacy policies and procedures related to collection, storage and disclosure of medical information. Policies and procedures should address how to handle breaches of confidentiality.

Read more from Barbara J. Zabawa from the Center for Health Law Equity about the proposed rules here.

If you have any questions or comments about any of the proposed rules you can submit them directly to the federal eRulemaking portal here. Comments are due by June 19, 2015.

Jennifer DiPietro has been managing B2B gift card programs since 2010. A lover of social media, she has recently decided to get back into blogging as well as delve deeper into the world of marketing. Native to New England, she enjoys the beauty of the coast, but also loves the cold, snowy winters. She is obsessed with Boston sports and the Denver Broncos.

Top Five Corporate Wellness Trends to Consider

If budgets and your office slacks are fitting tighter than ever this year then the answer may be implementing a corporate wellness program. The focus on employee health has increased over the years, especially as more and more statistics are pointing the savings to be had from a healthy workplace.

Consider this, in the past decade alone employer-sponsored health insurance premiums have increased by 119% and for ever dollar a company spends on worker medical/pharmacy costs, employers absorb two to three dollars of health-related productivity costs. Now when it comes to sick employees the trend continues to add up in dollars. While absenteeism can reportedly cost a company upwards of $100 billion, those employers working through their sick days can cost even bigger bucks in terms of lost productivity at $150 billion annually.*

It’s no wonder corporate wellness programs seem like the golden ticket to saving money. But in order for your corporate wellness program to be successful it’s important to remember that the focus should be placed on the well being of your employees and providing a healthier work space and less about controlling costs.

We drill down the Top 5 Corporate Wellness Trends to Consider in 2015 here.

corporate wellness*Encouraging healthy behaviors is good for your bottom line white paper, Hallmark Business, click here for full white paper.

Lauren is the Marketing Specialist here at GiftCard Partners. She enjoys all things marketing and design related. Learning about the newest trends and technologies in the b2b gift card world and seeing how we can use them to develop the best experience for our audience and reader base is our goal.

Optimize a Successful Wellness Rewards Program

wellness rewards program

Nearly 90% of employers offer wellness incentives, or financial rewards or prizes, as a means to engage their employees in creating and sustaining a more health conscious lifestyle, according to a recent survey from Fidelity. Rewards offered today are growing from $260 per employee to an average of $521 per employee. That’s an increase of 57% from 2009.

Learn How Your Company Can Optimize a Successful Wellness Rewards Program

Thursday, March 26
1pm EDT | 12pm CDT | 10am PDT

wellness rewards program

Attend this webinar and learn how your company can optimize the success of a wellness rewards program and create sustainable health for employees and organization.

The Corporate Health & Wellness Association, in partnership with CVS/pharmacy and GiftCard Partners would like to invite you to join this educational webinar.

In this webinar, you will learn:

  • Why gift cards provide the most return on wellness investments
  • How to retain and encourage employees after initial participation
  • Which wellness activities typically have higher participation rates when incentivized
  • Different incentive programs and models
  • Tax implications of incentives based on the Affordable Care Act
  • The importance of changing up the incentive design – variety is key

Meet the speakers!

corporate rewards program

Lauren is the Marketing Specialist here at GiftCard Partners. She enjoys all things marketing and design related. Learning about the newest trends and technologies in the b2b gift card world and seeing how we can use them to develop the best experience for our audience and reader base is our goal.

Wellness Programs Focusing On More Than Just Cost

Wellness ProgramsWellness programs have typically focused on reducing health care costs for employers, but for many this has not been the most satisfying outcome.  Karen Marlo, VP of the National Business Group on Health says, “There has been a lot of this belief that if we implement health care programs, we’ll have tremendous ROI…but many have felt that was an inflated comment'” leading Marlo to ask, “Is ROI the right measure in general for wellness programs?”

Overall there are six metrics that employers use to track how wellness programs are working.  Those metrics include: health and wellness engagement, absenteeism, and job satisfaction.  As wellness programs have evolved, employers have shifted their focus away from just cost and on to other intangibles such as employee productivity and how wellness impacts the company overall.

Employers typically implement wellness programs to reduce health risks, manage or reduce health care costs, and to improve employee productivity.

Employers also see value in wellness programs when it comes to:

  • Managing/reducing disability claims
  • Improving employee job satisfaction
  • Talent attraction/retention
  • Improving employee morale
  • Impacting business performance metrics and profitability

Executives are really looking for employees to make healthier decisions.  Employers are really starting to shift those decisions to focus on employee and family populations and instill confidence in those employees by providing them with the tools they need to make those healthier decisions.

Read more from Employee Benefit News!

Jennifer DiPietro has been managing B2B gift card programs since 2010. A lover of social media, she has recently decided to get back into blogging as well as delve deeper into the world of marketing. Native to New England, she enjoys the beauty of the coast, but also loves the cold, snowy winters. She is obsessed with Boston sports and the Denver Broncos.