The power to get a health insurance discount is right in your hands—or on your feet.
Most health insurance providers offer premium discounts and other incentives to subscribers who embrace healthy habits. If you have health insurance through your employer, the company may also provide additional health-related rewards. So, if you’ve been wanting to lose weight, quit smoking or start exercising, now is the time. Not only will you enjoy a healthier and possibly longer life, you will put more money back into your own pocket simply by taking steps toward wellness. Keep reading to find out how insurance companies and employers reward healthy behaviors and learn what you can earn for making these positive lifestyle changes.
While wanting healthier customers and employees sounds like a selfless motive, insurers and employers offer health insurance incentives to improve their bottom line. When deciding how much you must pay for health insurance coverage, insurers consider your personal risk factors. These include your weight, body mass index (BMI) and your smoking and drinking habits. Since smokers, heavy drinkers and obese individuals are more likely to develop expensive illnesses such as heart disease and cancer, companies charge them more for health insurance coverage.
Because employers pay a certain percentage of each employee’s health care costs, higher premiums impact the company’s budget. Naturally, they are eager to recover some of these costs. When employees become healthier by participating in wellness programs, everyone can reap the benefits of paying less for health care coverage.
Health assessments are one way that some insurers obtain information about your personal risk factors and are often the first step in obtaining insurance discounts. These surveys usually take a few minutes to complete and consist of questions about your medical history, diet, exercise, sleep and lifestyle habits including smoking and alcohol consumption. After you complete the assessment, you will receive feedback about your overall level of health and ways you can improve through lifestyle changes. Your feedback report may also include information about your employer’s wellness programs and the incentives you can receive by reaching certain goals.
In some cases, a physical health assessment may be required. This may be performed by your own general practitioner or a doctor assigned by the insurer. Your weight, height, blood pressure, blood glucose and other numbers will be recorded. Additionally, you will complete a medical history form that asks questions similar to the online assessment above.
Note: If you have a spouse and/or dependents on your health insurance plan, they are usually eligible for and encouraged to participate in health assessments and wellness programs.
Wellness programs are designed to address unhealthy behaviors and provide help in achieving fitness goals. Companies often employ creative strategies to encourage participation and reward positive changes. Some types of wellness programs include:
While most companies do not require employees to participate in wellness programs, there are few reasons to opt out. Some people see them as an invasion of privacy and would rather pay more for health insurance than feel like their company is watching their every move. Others simply dislike dieting or exercising or aren’t ready to give up their cigarettes or cocktails.
Even though participation is almost always voluntary, companies are increasingly issuing penalties on those who continue unhealthy behaviors. For example, employers may require higher insurance premium payments and additional surcharges on employees who continue to smoke. Some large corporations and state governments pay their employees’ health insurance premiums in full—but only if they meet BMI, blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol standards. Those who fail to do so must pay a monthly premium to receive health insurance benefits.
Lowered premiums are just one reward for participating in a wellness program. The types of discounts and rewards offered by employers and insurers might include:
While incentives can help you achieve your personal wellness goals, the most obvious reward is improved health and a longer life—something that can’t be measured in dollars.