Visa Launches New Prepaid Card

Visa announced today the launch of Canada’s first prepaid healthcare spending account card.  Collaborating with Great West Life, a leading Canadian group benefits provider, they have launched a new Visa prepaid card loaded with the employee’s health care spending account.  This will help to ensure that employees are not paying out of pocket for medical fees and services that should be covered under their group health benefits plan.

The card is called Health SolutionsPlus and is a Visa card issued by People’s Trust, a BC based financial institution.  This card will give point of sale access to an employee’s Health Care Spending Account (HCSA).  By using technology provided by Evolution Benefits™, Inc, the Health SolutionsPlus card allows employees to pay for their health care expenses at authorized providers at the POS.

“Employee benefit cards such as the Health SolutionsPlus Visa payment card provide fast and convenient access to healthcare spending account balances while reducing the need to pay out-of-pocket and wait for reimbursements,” says Mike Bradley, head of products, Visa Canada.

“The Visa payment card for HCSA claims will deliver an enhanced experience for plan members,” says Brad Fedorchuk, Vice-President of Group Benefits Marketing for Great-West Life. “Additionally, we have launched new cost containment product options with Health SolutionsPlus that can help plan sponsors implement cost saving plan changes while maintaining plan member satisfaction.”

The introduction of this card marks the beginning of a shift toward electronic payments for many new industries that were historically more cheque based.  The health care industry has always relied heavily on the issuance of cheques or cash to pay for health care spends.  They then moved to electronic deposits and then more recently, online benefits submission.  But a move like this really shows the shift towards a more convenient and transparent way to do business.  By issuing prepaid cards, it not only provides convenient for the group member… there is no concern of having to pay out of pocket and then waiting for a reimbursement, but it also helps to alleviate costs associated with administrative work on the provider’s side.

It’s interesting to note that the health care industry are not the ones looking at electronic payments.  Governments are now taking a second look at prepaid cards as a means to distribute various disbursements like welfare, disaster relief and pensions.  By eliminating the issuance of cheques, they cut the costs down and security increases.  Prepaid cards can be used immediately as opposed to the hold that most banks will put on a cheque that is deposited.  And it eliminates the need to use cheque cashing places that charge high percentages of the total amount of the cheque being cashed.  Smaller provinces have piloted the concept with some success so it wouldn’t be surprising to see this coming very soon.

All to say that the days of cash and cheques are quickly diminishing and it’s imperative that as a merchant, you are informed as the all the new forms of payments that you may be seeing at your point of sale.

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