UnitedHealth Group is offering more carrot and less stick in its new wellness program, which can save participants hundreds of dollars on their premiums, according to Forbes.
Its Rally Health program provides incentives and rewards to UnitedHealth members and self-insured employers for completing health surveys, taking healthy actions such as cutting back on sugar or completing challenges with the help of a wearable fitness device.
In addition to reduced premiums, Rally Health offers rewards such as Amazon gift cards and tax-free contributions to a Health Savings Account, which are meant to foster long-term motivation among members to improve their health.
Because people spend most of their time at the workplace, health and wellness opportunities continue to grow. Last year, UnitedHealth recognized this and reaped in about $107 million in healthcare cost savings in only the first 36 months of implementing its internal health incentives program, Robyn Harmon, health strategies consultant for the insurer, previously told FierceHealthPayer.
Elsewhere around the industry, to promote wellness, New York-based health insurer Oscar Health started the new year off by giving each member a free Misfit Flash activity monitor.
Despite the fact that eighty-eight percent of large employers offer wellness programs, according to Mercer, a benefits consulting company, these programs have drawn heat for pressuring members to submit personal health data such as blood pressure readings and BMI or pay a fine.
And a federal judge last fall ruled that workplace wellness programs, including New Jersey-based Honeywell's, can penalize employees for not participating. That can create more ill will toward the company than improved health results.
With UnitedHealth's new incentives propelling motivation, "the reports will be proven wrong," Grant Verstandig, chief executive of Rally Health, told Forbes, in regards to the negativity surrounding wellness incentives.
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