Insurance Discounts

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.

Why do companies provide these incentives?

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

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.

Types of 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:

  • Weight Loss: Lower your BMI by attending nutrition classes taught by a registered dietician, joining exercise sessions at work, and by using an app to track calories and weight.
  • Healthy Eating: Insurers issue a loyalty card to record your grocery store purchases. You can receive discounts and cash back bonuses for buying fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods.
  • Exercise: Companies keep track of your exercise by providing you with fitness trackers or gym memberships. Some employers offer on-site fitness centers or provide aerobics, yoga or Pilates classes after work and during lunch. You can receive rewards for attending a certain number of classes, reaching a certain number of steps per day on the fitness tracker or by visiting the gym regularly.
  • Smoking Cessation: Joining a program to help stop smoking can provide you with nicotine replacements, behavioral counseling and other aids to stop using tobacco. Blood tests measure nicotine levels to verify that you are no longer using tobacco.
  • Diabetes Management: Participating in a diabetes management program can help slow disease progression and reduce overall health risk factors. These programs teach blood sugar management through diet, activity, medication and monitoring blood glucose levels. In some cases, you will receive a free blood sugar monitor and discounts on monitor testing strips.
  • Healthy Living: Intended for people with other chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure, arthritis, anxiety or heart disease, these programs teach stress management and other ways to improve overall health.

Is participation required?

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.

Discounts and Other Rewards

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:

  • Cash rewards for completing health assessments and meeting personal fitness goals.
  • Co-payment vouchers to use at your next doctor visit.
  • Free or discounted gym memberships and personal trainer sessions.
  • Free nutrition counseling and cookbooks.
  • Vouchers for healthy meal delivery services.
  • Fitness trackers or other fitness equipment.
  • Sweepstakes entries.
  • Gift cards.

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.

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