Business

Paymaster relaunches improved Loyalty Rewards Programme

KARENA BENNETT Business reporter bennettk@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, July 30, 2014    

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PAYMASTER Jamaica Limited yesterday relaunched its Loyalty Rewards Programme, offering members up to $1.5 million in benefits which company CEO Audrey Marks said was a major upgrade.

Members of the programme are now able to benefit from the Paymaster Shield — an insurance policy that offers critical illness and death benefits free of cost — after making a minimum of three bill payments for three consecutive months on the due date using the Paymaster Loyalty Card.

What's more, the Paymaster Loyalty Rewards Programme offers an accumulated points reward system and merchant discount on purchases of spa treatments, small appliances, supermarket groceries, among others.

The programme, which was first launched in 2011, offered a discount service fee. However, the company later decided to implement a stronger value proposition for customers.

"The programme did well, but we wanted to do a major upgrade," Marks said at the launch at Knutsford Court Hotel. "Paymaster Loyalty Rewards Programme is free, as well as it has benefits, so it is a much better programme."

She added that the new programme will provide customers with an option to access private health care facilities when diagnosed with a number of critical illnesses that come with large treatment costs such as cancer, heart attacks, blindness, and asthma.

Paymaster Shield offers insurance coverage of $150,000 free of cost, of which $50,000 will be disbursed to critical illness and the remaining $100,000 to accidental death. With additional payments of $220 per month, members can upgrade their insurance coverage to the maximum amount of $1.5 million. In addition, Paymaster Shield requires no medical checks and is not age-specific.

According to Marks, over 65 per cent of Jamaicans have no access to insurance benefits. However, the Government's decision to address the issue by creating free health care has overburdened the system.

"We are therefore intervening through the support of our health initiative to ensure that by paying those bills on the due date, at least 60 per cent of customers will be getting help with their medical eventualities," Marks told the Jamaica Observer.

Also speaking at the function, Dr Jennifer Alexander lauded the programme and said that over the years patients have been rescheduling examinations up to two years after being diagnosed with cancer because of financial difficulties.

"In times of austerity when you're trying to shuffle your money between sending the children to school, buying food and paying bills, I find that patients tend to put off their health care," Dr Alexander said.

"Then what happens is that a stage one cancer after two years, becomes a stage three or four cancer and the reality is that patients are dying because the best facilities for diagnosis and treatment are out of their financial reach," she added.

Dr Alexander went on to explain that breast and prostate cancers in 2012 cost some $78,000 to $250,000 for diagnosis of the condition. After treatment, according to the doctor, the patients would have spent at least $3.5 million and patients who are diagnosed with HER (human epidermal growth) hormone-positive breast cancer are required to pay $100,000 per week for an entire year for treatment.

"This is just totally unaffordable, and then at the end of treatment we find that patients are not prepared for the out-of-pocket payments for loss of income, other illnesses, disabilities, and the family then suffers," Dr Alexander said.

Owner of Spa Aesthetic, Gaudia Chevannes-Aquart, in echoing similar sentiments, stated that many small businesses in Jamaica are not able to provide insurance benefits for staff. As such, if emergencies occur, it is out of the employers' pocket that funding is provided.

"In January last year, one of my staff discovered a lump in her breast, and the difference it made between diagnosis and being able to start treatment was critical," Chevannes-Aquart told the Business Observer. "This programme will help persons to make quicker decisions about their health and will impact the lives of many people."

Paymaster, which has partnered with over 200 companies including ADS Global and Spa Aesthetic to implement the initiative, has already seen some 8,000 people signing up for the programme.

Paymaster currently has over 200 locations islandwide where bill payments are received on behalf of more than 55 Jamaican client companies. In recent times, the company has also been collecting payments for traffic tickets and property taxes.

"It's an exciting time for the company after almost two decades. We are still innovating and we're able to press the refresh button and stay ahead of the crowd," Marks said.

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