HEALTH

Citi’s flu care card pushes employers toward lower-cost retail channels

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK Citi on Tuesday announced the launch of the Citi Flu Care card, a new corporate healthcare payment solution from Citi’s Global Transaction Services. The Citi Flu Care card is a payment service designed to help employers reduce employee healthcare spending by shifting the administration of flu shots from doctors’ offices or on-site clinics to more cost-effective pharmacy locations.

 

According to an examination in June 2010 by a benefits consulting firm, the average cost of a flu shot when factoring in the vaccination and related services rendered is estimated to be $80 or greater when dispensed at a doctor’s office. By using the Citi Flu Care card, the cost per vaccination is $30 or less.

 

 

“The Citi Flu Care card is designed to help employers keep their employees healthy by offering them an easy and convenient way to get a flu shot," stated Dan Miller, SVP pharmacy operations for Rite Aid. "It’s also a good way to get out the message that the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses."

 

Based on industry research, it is the first flu shot card payment product that does not require prepayment, and restricts use to flu vaccinations at more than 17,000 pharmacies and clinics nationwide, including CVS/pharmacy, Rite Aid, Target, MinuteClinic, The Little Clinic and any of the Kroger Family of pharmacies.

 

Until now, companies have relied on corporate on-site health providers or doctor visits for flu shot disbursement, Citi noted. With the Citi Flu Care card, employers can direct vaccinations toward lower-cost retail channels, significantly reducing the average cost per vaccination by 63%. This means substantial and immediate savings for the company and a convenient, no-cost alternative to the employee.

 

 

"For nearly 14 years, Citi has been pioneering corporate payment solutions for a wide array of payment needs, from payroll and incentives to benefits and rebates," stated Paul Simpson, global head of treasury and trade solutions, global transaction services at Citi. "Now, we’re revolutionizing how individuals get their flu shots, providing greater ease, flexibility and access. It’s incredibly exciting to think about the impact this could have on the health and productivity of individuals and our economy as a whole. We’re excited to think about the other applications this product will have in market."

 

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HEALTH

Omron offers up the gift of health

BY Michael Johnsen

BANNOCKBURN, Ill. With New Year’s resolutions just around the corner, Omron Healthcare is offering up healthy gift options for those looking to get back on track this January, the company announced Monday.

 

Priced under $50, Omron has assembled a sampling of gift ideas that provide motivation and accurate health information for those looking to make healthy changes in 2011.

 

 

For example, the Omron 3 Series upper arm blood pressure monitor enables patients to take the right steps in monitoring and managing the risk of heart disease. The Omron pocket pedometer with activity also is a great motivational tool, Omron suggested. And the Omron fat loss monitor is a hand-held tool that provides weight, body fat percentage and body/mass index readings.

 

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DHA supplements may help boost memory, study finds

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON According to a study published in the November edition of Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, taking docosahexaenoic acid may improve memory and learning in older adults with mild cognitive impairments. The study found that DHA taken for six months improved memory and learning in healthy, older adults with mild memory complaints.

 

“The results of this study are very encouraging for those consumers concerned about maintaining memory,” stated Duffy MacKay, VP scientific and regulatory affairs for the Council for Responsible Nutrition. “The more we learn about the valuable role DHA plays in supporting brain function, the more options aging Americans have toward managing cognitive decline.”

 

 

While this study focused on a population of healthy adults with age-associated memory impairment, a study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, conducted in a population that previously had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, did not indicate DHA provided a statistically significant benefit to cognitive function. The lead author of the JAMA study also highlighted that the study’s results may have been different had DHA been administered before the participants’ disease progressed.

 

“This study reinforces the principle that consumers will reap the most benefit from their DHA supplements — and many supplements — when they are taken over time and before a health concern is imminent,” MacKay said. “When included as a part of a proactive health regimen that includes a well-balanced diet, regular physical activity and routine visits with a healthcare professional, dietary supplements offer an important tool to help support many systems in the body, including memory and cognitive function.”

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