Bribing People To Exercise?

Tracy Smith; Blue Cross member, lost 300 lbs. CBS

Health insurance companies hope to cut costs by offering bonus point rewards to customers who stay fit. This may help ensure healthy profits for them, but is it good for your health? CBS' Sandra Hughes reports on the bottome line.



By exercising and staying healthy, Traci and Todd Gianvito have earned enough reward points to take a trip to Florida.

And, says Destiny Healthcare member Todd Gianvito, "We'll be going to Europe next year using the airline miles and using the vacation package for part of the trip."

Destiny Healthcare offers Traci and Todd incentives every time they visit a gym or work out. They even get points for taking CPR classes and doing charity runs.

"We'll get little incentive letters saying way to go, you're earning points and here are some free movie tickets -- which I think is cool," said Traci.

And it saves cool cash for their small midwestern healthcare provider and its parent company in South Africa.

"On the financial level, it impacts dramatically on healthcare costs, people are more prudent, they are more engaged in their healthcare," said Adrian Gore, with Discovery Healthcare.

In the U.S., where up to 65 percent of the population is considered overweight, more and more healthcare companies are trying to pry their members off the couch and into a healthier lifestyle.

Blue Cross member Tracy Smith had success at Lindora Weight Loss Clinic but couldn't afford to continue. Then she found out Blue Cross would pay for part of her plan.

"It's beneficial having the Blue Cross insurance. I get not only a discount on my program but on my products," Smith said.

She's lost 300 pounds.

"My question is: Is this really about getting Americans healthier or is this about getting healthier Americans into their plans?" asked HMO expert Jamie Court.

Consumer advocates say these frequent jogger programs are ignoring a costly segment of the population.

"This is very much I think a marketing strategy to attract the best risks, but what does that mean for the people who are sick or old or chronically ill?" Court said.

For Destiny members Tracy and Todd Gianvito, it's just the motivation they say they need to keep from getting sick in the first place
  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

Comments

Follow Us

On Twitter