Innovation That Matters

Giftcard for healthcare expenses

Work & Lifestyle

Some 47 million Americans, or 16 percent of the population, do not have health insurance, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s last count, and that number is on the rise. Little wonder, then, that Pennsylvania insurer Highmark recently rolled out what appears to be the nation’s first prepaid gift card designed specifically for healthcare expenses. Launched in November, the Healthcare Gift Card can be stocked with anywhere between USD 25 and USD 5,000 and used to cover expenses including co-pays at doctor’s offices and pharmacies; dental care, including braces and teeth whitening; vision care, including eye exams and prescription sunglasses; memberships at health clubs; and elective procedures such as Lasik and cosmetic surgery. Providers must simply accept Visa debit cards in order for the Healthcare Gift Card to work. The cost of the card is USD 4.95 plus shipping and handling, and a maintenance fee of USD 1.50 per month is imposed beginning in the ninth month after the card is purchased, for as long as a balance remains. Corporate orders are available as well. It remains to be seen what changes, if any, the upcoming U.S. presidential election will bring for the nation’s uninsured, but in the meantime, a prepaid card makes a great deal of sense. In addition to the obvious benefits for uninsured consumers, such cards could be a great branding opportunity for pharmacies and other health-related organizations, which could offer them under their own names much the way retailers already offer traditional gift cards today. Of course, the United States is not the only nation without universal healthcare—also one to bring to other parts of the world? Spotted by: Susanna Haynie



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