Health Insurance Companies Give Financial Incentives for Good Habits – Frugal Confessions

Health Insurance Companies Give Financial Incentives for Good Habits

Since I discussed a “stick” approach my health insurance company began on January 1, 2012 by charging a higher premium for smokers than for non-smokers, I’d like to take the time to discuss a “carrot” incentive sponsored by them: a reward points program. And reward points mean free stuff!

I am with Blue Cross Blue Shield and take full advantage of their Blue Points Reward System. Every six months I take a health risk assessment online for 2500 points. During the week (when I remember), I record my eating habits and any exercise I have done. In return I am given calorie and fat counts and access to lots of great recipes.  Since I started these activities in 2009, I have earned a total of 23,280 points. With these points I have gotten a free Starbucks gift card, a yoga mat shoulder holder, a 9” springform pan (to use in making cheesecakes, an admittedly unhealthy dessert), and two movie tickets to the theater near our home.

Many health insurance companies offer incentives for good health habits. In the long term this benefits the insurance company and the employer because they save money when the plan participants are healthier. Originally I wanted to research individual health insurance companies and provide a list of which ones have incentive programs. However, the research was very complicated; it appeared that even under one company of health insurance (Blue Cross Blue Shield for example) whether or not a rewards program was offered could differ among state, employer, etc. Some programs offer rewards points you could redeem for gift cards and items. A few programs even allow you to redeem reward points towards reduced co-payment costs. If you have health insurance, you might want to call your provider to find out if they offer something similar and ask how to enroll.

I would hate for you to miss out on free rewards!

Does your health insurance company offer a rewards program? Have you redeemed for anything yet? 

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10 comments… add one

  • My company is contributing an additional $25 each month towards our health insurance plans (meaning: less we employees have to pay, pre-tax!) if we sign up for a wellness program through our insurance company. All we have to do is get a physical before June, which is free with our insurance.

    I plan on taking that “free” money that’ll be back in my paycheck and adding it to my biweekly 401k contributions instead. Since my company doesn’t contribute to our 401ks, this is a roundabout way of making it happen ;-)

    (I’ve been reading your blog for a long time, but this is the first time I’ve commented.)

    • FruGal

      I like your perspective on this. Way to go! As my friend likes to say, $25 a month “sure beats a slap in the face”. (always thought that was a funny saying because how can you say that it doesn’t beat a slap in the face?:)).

      • Thanks! For a two person plan, the price is about $720/month. The company contributes the first $200 (about 27%); the remainder is deducted from our paychecks, pre-tax (about $262 per pay period). Most companies pay a much higher percentage of their employees health care, so any more that they’ll give, I’ll take!
        Rabbit recently posted..Thinking about having a few "weekly" posts

        • You are definitely paying a moderately high premium (at least from the companies my husband and I have worked for). Right now my employer pays for my premium, and my husband pays $131 per month for his. My last company also paid my entire premium which was a nice benefit.

          I am sorry to hear yours is so high! Would you be eligible to deduct your premiums on your taxes–scroll down in this article to read about it (http://turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tools/tax-tips/Tax-Deductions-and-Credits/Tax-Deduction-Wisdom—Should-You-Itemize-/INF12061.html)?
          Amanda L Grossman recently posted..Health Insurance Companies Give Financial Incentives for Good Habits

          • Ohhhh yeah, tell me about it! :P It’s a burning issue with me. I pay more than everyone I know!

            My husband’s field can be shaky (often grant-funded), so we’ve stayed on my insurance, even though his employer has much better rates! I think that when his open enrollment period comes around this year, we’ll take another look. Especially since my company gives that $200 in a “bonus” check each month to those who don’t take the insurance. (Which I’ve never seen at any other job…) If I had that extra $200…oh the things I could do or save for! Haha :)

            If the premiums are paid with pre-tax money, it was my belief that you can’t deduct them on taxes. Our insurance payment comes from my check. Although, for 2010’s tax year, we spent so much out of pocket (I had a minor surgery and physical therapy) that we could itemize THOSE expenses and got some back.

            Thanks for your feedback!
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          • FruGal

            Yes you are right–if you are all ready receiving a tax benefit than it would be double dipping (I wish you could though!).

  • I would like to see more of an incentive! Perhaps similar to Life insurance companies. Better rates for non smokers.
    krantcents recently posted..My Show Is Always On

    • FruGal

      I am into incentives as well! But I guess since some people are not “incentivized” by incentives, then they also need to use a stick approach (in reference to Monday’s article).

    • I agree. My company has a LOT of smokers; I wish they had to pay more for their health insurance. OTOH, I’m overweight, so I’m sure they could say something similar about me. Could be a slippery slope, all sorts of divisions between teetotalers and social drinkers, meat-eaters and vegans, etc.
      Rabbit recently posted..Thinking about having a few "weekly" posts

  • Linda

    It is a very good news that health insurance companies gives financial incentives for good habit people… really a good one post…

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