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Stocking stuffer: health gift card

Associated Press/Boston Globe, December 24, 2009

Healthcare providers are rolling out a different sort of stocking stuffer: gift cards that can be used to pay bills and insurance premiums or for specific services at eye doctors and dentist offices. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida might have the largest program, selling cards at more than 1,000 Winn-Dixie and CVS stores in the state. The providers selling them say they can make a good gift, but industry observers contend some cards may not be right for many consumers. In the BCBS program, with a $19 card, recipients save 10% to 50% on braces, dentures, crowns, fillings, oral surgery, and cosmetic dentistry; 20% off brand name and generic medications through most major pharmacies; and 10% to 60% on eye exams, glasses, and contacts. Its $59 card can be used to help pay a premium or toward access to health insurance.