A recent study has shown that coverage costs can encourage people to exercise more and get fit.
There was a great deal of controversy that arose when a health insurance company first started charging higher rates for individuals who were obese, but whether or not it is deemed appropriate or fair, a recent study has shown that it can give people the motivation they need to bring their weight down to healthier levels.
When policyholders were given the choice to lose weight or pay more, they quickly started dieting.
According to a joint study between Stanford University and the University of Michigan Health System, when people had to choose between paying up to 20 percent more to continue their health insurance coverage or start exercising more, most people chose the latter. In fact, the majority of enrollees who were given this choice actually did meet the fitness goals that were requested of them. This was monitored by way of an internet tracked walking program.
The researchers used a pedometer to find out whether people would get healthy for cheaper health insurance.
The team conducting the study evaluated an insured group of people who had a Blue Care Network plan and who had enrolled in a program that used a pedometer as a requirement in order to be able to obtain a discount on their coverage. After a year on this program, almost 97 percent of those who had enrolled in the program met the minimum requirement of 5,000 steps per day, or exceeded it.
This included the participants in the program who disagreed with it and that were the most resistant to it, saying that the financial incentives and the design of the program was “coercive”.
The health insurance study’s senior author, Caroline R. Richardson, M.D., U-M Department of Family Medicine assistant professor and a VA Center for Clinical Management Research investigator, as well as a member of the U-M Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, said that “There are ethical debates around the idea of forcing someone to be personally responsible for health care costs related to not exercising, but we expect to see more of these approaches to financially motivate healthier behaviors.”