August 9, 2013
UnitedHealth saved $107 million in health costs over three years by engaging its employees, including motivating them to maintain healthy lifestyles and lose weight, according to a new report published in the journal Health Affairs.
In only one year, UnitedHealth's "Rewards for Health" program led to 76% of its employees decreasing their premiums, with 27% cutting rates by $1,200. Employees are rewarded with premium cuts by meeting certain health goals, including getting screenings for cancer or diabetes or reducing their body mass indexes.
"Our own experience with our 133,000 employees shows that rewarding healthy behavior works. Implementing patient-engagement strategies more broadly could have a profound impact on consumer health, help achieve wide-scale cost reductions and advance a higher-performing health system," report author Lewis Sandy, UnitedHealth's senior vice president for clinical advancement, said in a statement.
Moreover, UnitedHealth found in only two years the program resulted in particularly large increases in employees' wellness visits and office-based screenings, colorectal cancer screenings and retinal eye exams for workers with diabetes.
"I think we are seeing greater and greater interest in aligning interests in healthcare, to offer consumers incentives to actually do what it is that will improve their health," Sandy told Bloomberg.
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