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My Letter to Health Insurance Companies: We Don’t Want Incentives; We Want Value

If we wanted points, we would have opened another credit card.

Health insurance companies are responding to the cries of their subscribers who want to be rewarded for healthy behaviors.  But it’s not exactly what we all had in mind.  Programs like HumanaVitality have popped up, touting their points-based incentive programs.  If we wanted to save up points to get free movie tickets, we would have opened another credit card.

We really wanted value.

Points for healthy living to be redeemed for Samsung products or a night out on the town isn’t want we wanted. We wanted health insurance companies to add value.  After all,  50% of subscribers make up less than 3% of the total medical costs in the US So if we’re a population producing the smallest amount of charges,  that’s the insurance companies’ reason to keep us.  But why should we keep them? What value do they give us?

Health insurance companies,  I’m letting you in on a big (apparently secret only to you) secret.  I’m going to let you know some of the value I, and others, are looking for. We’re looking for alternative, safe options and effective rewards for our healthy lifestyle.

We’re  alternative generations: so give us alternative options.

Some of us are crunchy.  Some of us are yoga-addicts.   Some of us are afraid of needles.  Many of us want alternatives to invasive surgery.  But what do health insurances cover? They cover invasive surgeries, and rightly so.  Subscribers cannot cover the cost of hospitalization and specialized care.  But why not also better cover lower-risk alternatives?

  • Chiropractic care
  • Nutritionalists
  • Massage Therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Behavior Therapy
  • Birth Control alternatives (Non-estrogen, UIDs, etc)
  • Birthing Centers / Midwives
  • Alternative medicines

Last year I was  diagnosed with Scoliosis. For all these years, I thought that I had torn a back muscle,  and my poor balance was innate.  After 9 years of pain killers, muscle relaxants,  headaches and fatigue, an X-ray of my spine showed the true problem: my hips and spine have a severe twist and bow.

I had two options. Option 1 was that I  wait until I was 35, having my misaligned vertebrae continue  erode the discs and nerves away,  and have spinal surgery as a last resort to save my nervous system.  This procedure would leave me  on bed rest for 12 weeks minimum,  and forever limit my range of motion. The second option is to have chiropractic care for 18 weeks, which included careful adjustments and 40 minutes of group physical therapy,  all of which I could do after work and around my busy schedule.

Guess which was covered by my insurance company?  Option 1.  The co-pay for the chiropractic visits  was so high, it only saved me $5 per visit.  I’ll be paying off these payments for months to come.  But it’s worth it to me to stop the erosion now, and reduce the possibility of further nerve damage.

How cool would it be if your health insurance company had a policy where it sponsored its subscribers who were marathon runners?

Please give me value, not points. Why not reimburse me my gym membership?  I would see a physician on January 1, and then again at December 20.  If the physician said the gym membership helped me ( to maintain my healthy blood pressure, drop a few pounds, etc.),  I would get reimbursed for 100% of my gym fees.  How awesome would that be?

Here are some other ideas I would like to see health insurance companies reward me with:

  • Assist in payments for  fitness classes/rock climbing/kick-boxing/pole-dancing/what-have-you
  • Sponsor marathon runners
  • Offer company incentives for having a in-house fitness class or gym
  • Offer company incentives for  having a healthy cafeteria
  • Discounts for workout gear for individual subscribers
  • Assist in payments for nutrition classes
  • Discounts in State Park memberships (hiking, walking, etc)

So, the cat’s out of the bag! Now you know what I, and many others, are looking for.  Now it’s up to you to make it happen.

Yours Truly,

-Someone sick of useless points rewards

1 Comment so far

  1. Amazing. Reward healthy with healthy (not a ticket to sit still and watch a movie) Brilliant. Can you come work for my department? pretty please?

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