by Alex Palmer | May 01, 2012
Incentive company United Preference has launched a new rewards card aimed at helping employers and health plans to boost healthy behavior. Launched on April 23, the company has dubbed the program, called Tailored Spend, a “new currency.”

Reward cards can only be used on health-related rewards, such as healthy foods and supplements, gym memberships, over-the-counter medication, and other healthy merchandise and services.

United Preference CEO Mark Hall points to the $60 billion being spent annually by health plans and employers to motivate behaviors through a “fragmented system of cash, gift cards, prepaid gift cards,” and premium rebates and point systems. Hall believes that by and large, these fail to engage employees long term, track employee behavior, or tie it back into behavioral analytics.

“Understanding behaviors in healthcare and what you are trying to achieve is really critical,” says Hall. “We saw a real gap in the market.”

Unlike traditional gift cards, United Preference can “sweep” the Tailored Spend cards to recoup unused funds annually or biannually.

The Tailored Spend program offers a single-card platform for all incentives and benefits. It then allows employers, via customizable administrative portals, to track when the cards are being spent, what the funds are being spent on, and whether the spend is driving the healthy behaviors they are looking to inspire.

Tailored Spend is the brainchild of both Mark Hall and United Preference COO Pamela Hall, who have developed and launched other reward programs in the past, such as the prepaid Visa RushCard with hip hop entrepreneur Russell Simmons.

“We saw the possibility of taking our experience with payments and taking our knowledge of the technological side of that, and developing a whole new way that this was being done and thought of,” says Pamela Hall. “To be able to tie into behavioral analytics and spend analytics and really be able to drive behavioral change and really deliver a more intelligent card product.”

The cards are meant to be used by both employers and health plans, as well as existing incentive platforms seeking more efficient or all-encompassing health reward platforms. 

“If a member is using their card, we have the ability to retailor their card without having to give them a different type of incentive,” says Mark Hall.

United Preference is part of Healthbox Accelerator program, which brings together a mentor network and funding for healthcare startups, and is supported by leaders in the healthcare industry ranging from BlueCross Blue Shield Venture Fund, California Healthcare Foundation, Walgreens, Sandbox Industries, Ridgeview Medical Center, Merrick Ventures, and HLM Venture Partners.

With the ongoing debate over healthcare, the company views this as an important time for stronger tools and incentives to encourage healthy behaviors. They join SpaFinder in this effort, which released its own “Wellness Currency” on April 26.

“One of the reasons we wanted to get involved in this space right now is that it’s really open for change,” says Pamela Hall. “The healthcare landscape is unfolding and it’s growing – this really ties into the member experience and impacting it in a very positive way.”