|Health insurance rebates for living
If the price of gasoline has been making you ill,
just take a look at your health insurance costs and you'll really
But there is some relief available
if you commit to a healthy lifestyle.
Since 2000, health insurance premiums have risen 75
percent, and increasingly, employees are asked to foot more of the
bill. In 2005, the average employee was paying $3,500 annually for
health-care premiums, which doesn't include out-of-pocket costs
for things like prescriptions and co-pays. That's roughly twice
as much as you would spend on gas in a year if you drove 15,000
miles a year and got 20 miles to the gallon.
"Over the last five years, health-care premium
costs are far outpacing inflation," says Joel Miller, senior
vice president for operations at the National Coalition on Health
Care. "It's starting to put a real crimp in family budgets."
There might be no quick fix to the health-care costs
conundrum, but insurers are beginning to realize they can cut their
own costs -- and that of their insured members -- by encouraging
and rewarding healthy behavior. To that end, insurers are helping
to subsidize everything from gym memberships to food bills, and
offering incentives such as T-shirts and iPods for people willing
to work up a sweat.
There are lots of things you can't control that will
affect the cost of your insurance, like your age and pre-existing
conditions. But here are a few programs that reward you for the
choices you make every day which affect your health.
Insurance Corporation is hoping to get its members to eat healthier
by encouraging them to join a community
supported agriculture farm. In exchange for a one-time fee,
CSA members receive locally grown, freshly harvested fruits and
vegetables each week throughout the growing season. CSA members
insured by Physicians Plus can receive up to a $200 rebate each
year for joining a farm.
Kathryne Auerback, marketing director
for Physicians Plus, says the innovative program got rave reviews
from its members when the pilot debuted in 2004, and more than 100
signed up just days after the insurer officially rolled out the
program in January 2006. "We feel that [community supported
agriculture] is a really healthy model for the community, and it's
a convenient way for our members to eat their veggies," she
Medica is one
insurer that's subsidizing exercise. Join a qualifying gym, exercise
at least eight times a month, and it will reimburse $20 of your
monthly membership. Members can also integrate that into a free
online plan, says Greg Bury, a spokesman for Medica. "Members
can track their workouts, do meal planning, and engage with a personal
fitness coach," he says.
The incentive is working: A survey of the insurer's
members showed that those who have enrolled in the program are far
more likely to exercise at least twice a week than they were before.
Even those who belonged to a gym before the program started are
hitting the gym more often. Half of the people in the program have
reported that they have lost weight and have more energy.