Get Paid for Your Healthy New Year’s Resolution
By Dr. Catherine Palmier, M.D., chief medical officer, UnitedHealthcare-Southeast Region
Every year, about 45 percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, especially commitments to exercise more, eat better and improve one’s health. However, research shows fewer than half of those pledges will be successful.
But what if you could save money or even get paid for making and achieving some of those New Year's resolutions, especially those aimed at improving your health? That’s the idea behind a range of new health benefits plans and incentive programs offered by a growing number of employers, including many companies in Louisiana.
In fact, almost 80 percent of U.S. employers offer worksite wellness programs, many featuring financial incentives, according to the National Committee for Quality Assurance.
Helping to drive the trend is the recognition that more needs to be done to improve wellness and prevent disease. For example, the Affordable Care Act allows employers to make available to their employees rewards of up to 30 percent of the cost of coverage for participating in a wellness program or meeting certain health measures, such as for body mass index, blood pressure or cholesterol.
Here are some ways to help people make the most of their New Year’s resolutions to improve both their health and finances:
Some health plans offer gift cards, premium reductions or even direct financial
contributions to health savings accounts for employees who engage in wellness activities, such as completing an online health assessment, a telephone-based health coaching program or an at-home health screening. For instance, UnitedHealthcare offers employers Personal Rewards, a wellness program that enables an employee to earn up to $600 per year, or $1,200 per couple, for addressing body mass index, blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Another example is the Diabetes Health Plan. This plan enables people with diabetes to save up to $500 per year through lower copays and discounts on drugs by following their doctors’ recommended treatments, which are based on guidelines from the American Diabetes Association. The Diabetes Health Plan, offered by UnitedHealthcare, is an example of the growing trend of value-based benefit designs, which use incentives to help improve health outcomes.
The New Year is also a good time to evaluate whether you have the necessary level of financial protection to get you through an unforeseen medical issue. A life, disability or critical illness & accident insurance policy can provide peace of mind so you can focus on getting better. Some Americans are underinsured or lack life insurance altogether to protect their most important asset – their ability to earn an income. In addition, some people don’t realize that giving up just one family night at a restaurant could be enough to provide a full year of additional life insurance protection through their workplace coverage.
The New Year is an opportune time to reflect on your personal and financial health. By taking advantage of available resources, people can improve both their waistlines and their wallets.