Sam’s Club Launches Small Business Health Exchange

Sam’s Club has introduced a health exchange service in partnership with Aetna to better serve its small business clientele. The key benefits of this new health exchange for small business owners include streamlined administration, budget predictability, cost control and options for coverage.

“The small business community is really a cornerstone of our business base,” said Rosalind Brewer, Sam’s Club CEO. She also noted that the face of the small business owner is changing, with 70 percent of Sam’s Club’s small business customers considered micro-businesses with fewer than five employees.

“(Our members) have told us that they need clarity on small group health care,” Jill Turner-Mitchael, senior vice president of health and wellness at Sam’s Club. “With the launch of the new Aetna Marketplace for Sam’s Club, small business owners can have plan choices for their employees that are affordable, personalized and easy to use.”

In addition to the health exchange, Sam’s Club introduced new legal services and payroll services for small business owners. And Sam’s Club travel mobile app is expected to launch next month that will allow members to book travel on the go.

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CVS Plans To Charge Customers For Filling Prescriptions At-Tobacco Selling Drugstores

Caremark, the pharmacy benefits management arm of CVS, will soon require “some customers” to make a co-payment on prescriptions filled at other pharmacies that still sell tobacco products.

According to a media analysis report, the new plan plays into the company’s efforts to strike lucrative partnerships with health care systems who value having healthier patients, encouraging CVS customers to fill prescriptions at CVS-owned pharmacies while putting financial pressure on other pharmacies to abandon tobacco sales.

The payment won’t apply to prescriptions filled in a tobacco-free network which includes CVS and Target locations.

Pharmacy benefit managers or PBMs such as Caremark, run prescription drug plans for employers, insurers, and other customers. They process mail order prescriptions and handle bills for prescriptions filled at retail pharmacies.

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Report Pegs Pet Food Sales To Reach $33 Billion In 2018

Packaged Facts, a division of MarketResearch.com, projects U.S. sales of pet food will rise 16 percent between 2015-18 to reach $33 billion. Packaged Facts estimates pet food sales in 2013 were $28 billion.

According to the research company, the pet food category experienced much of its growth outside of the core mass market, particularly in channels like farm/feed, Internet and pet specialty. Sales are expected to remain relatively flat through the rest of 2014, though opportunities exist in the premium food sector as pet owners purchase these products to protect the health of their pet.

“Looking ahead, the trick will be to find ways to grow this mature market, since at its current pace pet population growth is not sufficient to drive higher levels of market growth,” comments Packaged Facts research director David Sprinkle. “For several years much of the dollar growth in the pet food market has come from converting pet owners to higher priced foods as part of the humanization trend.”

Premium pet foods will account for 42 percent of pet food sales in 2014, followed by regular pet food at 30 percent and value pet food at 12 percent, with treats comprising the remaining share of sales. On both the dog and cat sides of the market, the premium share of sales has expanded, mostly as a result of growth in the super premium segment.

Treats have also grown their share of the market, primarily due to the robust interest in treats among dog owners, many of whom have turned to functional treats as a way to ameliorate pet health conditions and promote overall wellness. Cat owners, on the other hand, have not proven as likely to indulge their pets in super premium fare, and have also been slower to embrace functional treats, suggesting areas for market expansion as cat food and treat marketers continue to trend into premium and functional fare, with products and trends often crossing over from the dog side.

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Latest Word in New Channels...

Sears plans to close an undetermined number of stores and lay off employees by the end of the year.

• Healthy Solutions Spice Blends of Milford, N.H., has received the National Women’s Business Enterprise Certification. The WBENC Certification validates that Healthy Solutions Spice Blends is a woman-owned, -operated and -controlled business. Healthy Solutions Spice Blends is a line of 16 distinct spice blends that are made using only the highest quality spices and have no fillers or preservatives, no MSG and are low in carbohydrates.

• Staples is investigating a possible breach of payment card data.

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