Employees rewarded for looking after themselves
In the USA, the Pittsburgh-based medical insurance provider Highmark has launched a rewards programme for people - specifically employees of its business clients - who actively look after their own health.
According to Highmark, one of the main solutions to the high cost of health care in the USA today is to simply encourage and reward business employees who take more responsibility for their own health.
Highmark's new consumer-driven programme, Highmark Lifestyle Returns, intends to help employers support their employees in becoming more involved in their health, rewarding them for their efforts and, over the long-term, helping to lower demand for medical services - all of which is likely to bring savings on employers' health care costs.
Highmark medical director, Dr Michael Dubroff, explained: "By following the programme requirements, employees can take important steps toward a healthier lifestyle."
How it works Lifestyle Returns, which is offered with Highmark PPOBlue medical insurance coverage to companies with 51 or more employees, is a five-step programme that begins with an online pledge. Employees promise to be more involved in their health by taking a comprehensive self-health evaluation. They then participate in two lifestyle improvement or condition management programmes, or they can participate in a single programme as well as contacting Blues on Call. They must also access at least one online self-care guide and complete an online follow-up survey about the guide.
Participating employees also need to complete a 'Wellness Profile' at the Highmark member web site, based on which Highmark generates an individual action plan for better health. The plan's recommendations typically includes lifestyle improvement programmes, to deal with issues such as smoking, nutrition, weight management and stress management.
For employees with certain chronic conditions (such as diabetes, coronary artery disease, back pain, asthma or depression) the plan's recommendations could also include condition management programmes that provide in-depth information on their condition.
Health rewards Lifestyle Returns also rewards those who participate with 'Blues On Call' care support, either online or by telephone. The service's health coaches are specially trained registered nurses who are able to help with health assessments, information, and can also discuss treatment options including self-care when appropriate.
The programme also provides work-site health promotion classes, YMCA and hospital-based classes, online programmes, benefit designs that encourage preventive care, and an employer-sponsored reward/incentive for members. Examples of possible rewards (depending on the employer) include lower employee contributions, a higher level of benefits and end-of-year rebate, or non-cash incentives.