Paid to stay healthy? Can you imagine insurance companies paying you to stay healthy? I can’t! Health insurance companies are routinely vilified for their practices. Now they are not only encouraging healthy behaviors, but actually paying you for it. It is a 180 degree change, but I will gladly take it. Is there something wrong about accepting money from the insurance company for doing what you would do anyway?
Is a few hundred dollars enough to encourage a healthier behavior? The insurance company wants to lower costs for you and they are willing to put their money where their mouth is! The Affordable Care Act was supposed to lower health care costs by insuring everybody. It did not go far enough to lower costs. If the insurance companies don’t do something soon, it will be too expensive to insure people.
Wellness programs are not new, but the insurance companies are getting more aggressive by paying for annual checkups or some other preventive services. It can be as much as $450 incentive in the form of gift cards, reduction in premiums or adding to your health savings account. It is an incentive to lower long term health costs by creating a healthier work force.
It is supposed to catch diseases early by treating the early signs of unhealthy behavior that ultimately cost the employer and the insurance. Treating high cholesterol, blood pressure and early signs of diabetes is less expensive than treating heart disease, stroke, heart attack or cardiac arrest. This makes sense, give an incentive to change behavior and save money.
Some may say that your employer is invading your privacy or trying to control behavior. Some employers will pay for smoking cessation programs. They are not telling you to stop smoking, but providing an incentive to stop. Is that invasion of privacy or looking out for your health and the company insurance plan? Other plans will pay for weight loss programs, lap band surgery or gym membership.
Discounts or actual reimbursement for participation is a great incentive to change your behavior. Participation in the wellness program is supposed to lower your risks of chronic diseases by preventive care and monitoring of the results. Some companies give incentives for changing behaviors and others penalize employees for not maintaining the healthy changes. It will take years until there is enough data to show that there are savings.
Would $450 or as much as $1,000 per family be enough to change your habits? Monetary incentives to do things you already do! It is a pretty good incentive to start walking, running, take the stairs, eating better, exercising and getting routine checkups. All in the name of controlling insurance costs! Not only will the employer benefit with lower costs, but the company will have a healthy workforce.
The benefits of a healthy workforce mean cost savings for the employer and more productivity. Employers and employees are happy with the cost savings and incentives. There are additional savings in lower worker’s comp claims, less time off for illness and higher productivity. Sounds like a win/win for both employers and employees. I am happy I am paid to stay healthy!
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I am happy I am paid to stay healthy!
Money Beagle says
Our employer made references a couple of years back that they might go this way, but so far they haven’t. I think if you have healthy habits, you’re obviously not going to like it, but if you have unhealthy habits (or are just cursed with health issues), you’re going to think it’s unfair. Everybody will likely judge it based on how it applies directly to their lives. In the greater sense, I guess time will tell 🙂
You’re right, some people may think the employer is trying to control you. Some smokers or obese people may feel it is too much interference.
My boyfriend’s work doesn’t pay for you to stay healthy, but they do pay for your gym and nutritionist which is great!
Healthy people are more productive! Any encouragement to change your habits is good.
TB at BlueCollarWorkman says
I never want someone telling me what to do — but in this case, they’re only providing incentives. WHich means, they aren’t forcing you to be healthy or penalizing you for sitting on the couch eatting ding dongs all day, they’re merely offering bonuses for people who are healthy. Which is cool.
I agree, I never liked anyone telling me what to do, but why leave money on the table. I am petty healthy and would love the encouragement.
I don’t think this is totally insane, we’re a society that tends not to do anything in terms of prevention. 90% of our healthcare system in North America is geared to fix problems not prevent them, and if this is the route we need to take to get our asses off the couch and do something about that diabetes or whatever I say go for it.
Part of the changes “Obamacare” is supposed to do is encourage preventive care such as physicals. If you catch diseases early enough, the insurance company and employer saves money and have a healthier workforce. Sounds like a win/win!
Lance @ Money Life and More says
My company actually has a Wellness program that reduces our premiums by up to $600 a year. I take advantage and get every single dollar I can. It isn’t hard and makes me healthier.
I agree, why leave money on the table!
Bobbie @bogofdebt says
My company has a wellness program where if we are on our company’s insurance every year we can get a free anual exam. Once we get this exam, we turn in paperwork saying we’ve had it and we get to pay a discoutned rate for the rest of the year.
That is a great incentive and saves money too. Many (about 40) years ago, I had an incentive to use my dental plan. After three years of annual examinations, you were covered for 100%.
Brent Pittman says
I’d love to have this option, but haven’t read about it. I need the incentive to do my annual checkup as I’m a bit behind on it.
Incentive or not, you need a baseline physical every so often! The incentive is a plus.
Marie at Family Money Values says
My sister-in-law works for a hospital. They have to get their BMI measured each year. If it is too high they either are required to put in monitored gym time or their premiums go up!
Some would say that is too much control, but maybe some of those people need the reminder.
My mother’s firm has optional programs that offer incentives for participating in exercise classes and preventative screening programs. She loves getting some extra cash while also spending time on her health which she would be doing anyway.
Often employees are paid for things they would do anyway. I wonder if it encourages others to change their habits? I presume the statistics support the incentives.
Buck Inspire says
I try to mind my health since I am getting older, but incentives do make it more fun going to the doctor for checkups. I would be surprised if any personal finance blogger said they don’t appreciate this. Everyone does win in this situation. Employer, employee, and country!
Personally, I find the lower cost/incentive to make the decision a no brainer. If there were no incentive I might put it off.
Veronica @ Pelican on Money says
I’ve never had any benefits with any job. Always pay my own health insurance (which I recently dropped because I could no longer afford it). A wellness program from my employer would be a miracle to me.
You are one of many people who need affordable insurance. In order for health insurance to be sustainable for everyone, everyone needs to be insured.
Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter says
I wish my employer focused more on staff wellness. Right now the term isn’t even mentioned. I actually think it is really sad. The only thing they have now started is a smoking cessation program. It’s a start but they have a long way to go. I try to live very healthy and if I could save so money too that would be great.
Living healthy does save money! I wish more companies would see the wisdom of encouraging employees to stay healthy, but the trend is changing. Maybe when they see the savings they will start to spread to more companies.
thanks about this subject it’s good.
stay healthy is our goals in this life so if you want to stay healthy you have to paid.
thanks again and continuous on this way
I stay healthy because it feels good! It certainly would be wonderful to get a little extra cash to motivate me.