wellness programs
Sep 05, 2023

The Best Rewards for a Healthy Wellness Program

Whether you’re a big company, a small company or a healthcare plan, the right wellness incentives can make all the difference in the health and success of your wellness program.

The more your employees or plan members take advantage of your wellness plans, the healthier they’ll be now and in the future. That means fewer missed workdays, greater productivity and a happier workforce.

What are wellness program incentives?

For today’s employers, an effective employee wellness program is not an option. This is a manageable and quantifiable ingredient of any company’s financial wellness. For a company to be successful, wellness needs to go beyond standing desks, a bowl of fresh fruit and motivational posters.

The secret to a successful program? Offering the right health and wellness incentives. With the right incentives, employees are motivated to follow a corporate wellness program and achieve that program’s desired outcomes. As an industry pioneer and global leader, Blackhawk Network (BHN) has the rewards and incentives to help your program be more successful.

How do these incentives benefit companies?

For companies, the right incentives can lead to a lot of benefits, including:

  • Increase participation in wellness programs
  • Build camaraderie among employees
  • Encourage healthy competition
  • Boost healthy behaviors
  • Reduce absenteeism
  • Boost levels of engagement
  • Help attract new employees


How do these incentives benefit healthcare plans?

For healthcare plans (health insurance providers, hospitals, etc.), it’s a question of how to engage members so they’ll take advantage of preventative or chronic care. These programs can save lives and save these providers millions of dollars, so using the right incentives is critical.

CMS Star Ratings and HEDIS® scores

An increase in healthcare plan member engagement usually leads to other benefits—like an increase in CMS Star Ratings and HEDIS scores. While these scores were once a nice-to-have for marketing purposes, they have become a must-have for operating in certain lines of business.

CMS (The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) publish Star Ratings each year to measure the quality of health services received by consumers enrolled in Medicare Advantage Plans. HEDIS (The Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set) is a tool used by healthcare organizations to measure the quality of care provided to patients. Primarily focused on improving preventive care, HEDIS is touted as the gold standard of value-based care performance.

HIPAA-HITECH compliance

Healthcare plans and other United States businesses that process protected health information must be familiar with both the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act. Violations of either come with strict penalties.

To help prevent any violations, your provider of rewards or incentives must also be HIPAA-HITECH compliant.

Elevate member engagement

To make sure your wellness program message gets through, you need to get your members’ attention. In this case, the right vehicle is almost as important as the right reward.

That’s why BHN offers a full assortment of marketing tools, both pre-designed and custom designed, in physical and digital formats. These are invitations to members to complete suggested healthy actions, as well as a fun way to deliver their well-earned rewards.

To be even more effective, our marketing tools can be completely personalized:

  • Choose the card style
  • Choose the message and artwork
  • Choose the reward
  • Let Blackhawk Network handle production, delivery, validation and fulfillment


Top wellness program reward card ideas

For those looking to learn more about the right employee rewards or incentives, look to BHN. We offer gift cards from hundreds of regional, national and global brands and merchants, as well as the most popular prepaid cards. But we also offer BHN Originals™, a collection of multi-brand cards offering employees and healthcare plan members more choice and more motivation.

Mastercard® and Visa® prepaid cards

Mastercard and Visa prepaid cards are popular, desirable and powerful incentives because they can be used everywhere the network's debit cards are accepted.

Plus, BHN offers them in a wide selection of plastic, virtual and mobile wallet-enabled formats, so they can be delivered exactly how your employees or members want them.

Our exclusive MAX Choice card

Offer your employees the maximum motivation that will require the minimum effort—offer them MAX Choice. It’s accepted at more than 150 U.S. merchants across dining, shopping, travel and entertainment.

Merchant gift cards

Compared to cash incentives, single-merchant gift cards provide special experiences. Where cash often gets spent on practical things like rent, food or gas, gift cards give employees the opportunity to treat themselves to something special. You can even further support their health goals with gift cards for pharmacies, athletic supply stores, healthy meals and more.

How popular are gift cards? According to Murphy Research:

84% of employees would rather receive
gift cards over any other type of reward.*

For better employee wellness program effectiveness, use incentives that people want.

Our unique filtered prepaid cards

Sometimes, you want to offer a wellness incentive with a lot of healthy choices, but don’t want your employees to use that reward for unhealthy purchases. That’s where BHN’s filtered prepaid cards come in.

With our patented DirectSpend® technology, you can easily choose where your cards can—or cannot—be spent. For example, you could include gyms, pharmacies and athletic supply retailers, but exclude fast food restaurants and liquor stores.

Offer multiple delivery options

Many of the rewards and incentives listed above can be delivered digitally via email as virtual gift cards or eGifts. That means they can be delivered quickly, which reinforces the healthy behavior almost instantly.

On the other hand, many of your reward recipients may still like to receive a plastic card that they can put into their wallets and use when they are out and about.

The point is to offer multiple delivery options, so the format becomes another positive part of the incentive.

Additional wellness incentive ideas

While we believe gift cards and prepaid cards make the best wellness program incentives (and we have the research and experience to back that up), it’s important to look at different types of incentives, as well. Each has its own value and may be effective for the certain groups of employees.

The most common type of incentive offered by employers is, of course, monetary, which can include:

  • Cash rewards given directly to employees as bonuses
  • Reimbursements for classes, memberships or equipment purchased by employees
  • Money deposited into an HSA or HRA


In addition to monetary, there are many other types of incentives employers can offer, including:

  • Material gifts (i.e., apparel, gym bag, etc.)
  • Company events
  • Free meals/lunches
  • Free subscriptions or memberships


There are also low- or no-cost incentives like:

  • Paid Time Off (PTO)
  • Extended or additional breaks


Talk to BHN

With so many options, determining the best rewards or incentives for your employee wellness program can be confusing. Fortunately, BHN is just a phone call away, and we can help with anything from choosing rewards to distribution to program management.

When you’re ready to improve the health of your wellness program needs, just click here or call 866.219.7533 and talk to BHN.

* Blackhawk Network Partner Verticals Report, Murphy Research, 2018

Mastercard Prepaid cards issued by Pathward®, N.A., Member FDIC. Card terms and expiration apply.

Visa Prepaid cards issued by Pathward, N.A., Member FDIC. Card terms and expiration apply.