Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

5,000 steps a day to avoid paying higher health insurance costs? When money talks, people walk

08.05.2013
Faced with a choice between higher insurance prices or exercising, people who were obese enrolled in and stuck with Internet-tracked walking program for a year

It was a controversial move when a health insurer began requiring people who were obese to literally pay the price of not doing anything about their weight – but it worked, a new study finds.

When people had to choose between paying up to 20 percent more for health insurance or exercising more, the majority of enrollees met fitness goals one step at a time via an Internet-tracked walking program, according to a joint study by the University of Michigan Health System and Stanford University.

Researchers evaluated a group of people insured by Blue Care Network who were enrolled in a pedometer-based program as a requirement to receive insurance discounts. After one year, nearly 97 percent of the enrollees had met or exceeded the average goal of 5,000 steps a day – including the most resistant participants who disagreed with the financial incentives and found the program "coercive."

"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," says senior author Caroline R. Richardson, M.D., assistant professor in the U-M Department of Family Medicine, investigator with the VA Center for Clinical Management Research and member of the U-M Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation.

"Our evaluation of Blue Care's incentivized program showed a surprisingly high rate of people who enrolled in the Internet-mediated walking program and stuck with it – even among those who were initially hostile to the idea. Wellness interventions like this clearly hold significant promise for encouraging physical activity among adults who are obese."

The new findings appear in Translational Behavioral Medicine.

Blue Care Network created a buzz when it implemented one of the largest-scaled financial incentive programs in the country by requiring adults who were obese and in the Healthy Blue Living program to enroll in a fitness program to qualify for lower out-of-pocket health care costs. Enrollees could choose between several programs, including Weight Watchers and WalkingSpree, which uses a digital pedometer to upload walking data on a wellness tracking web site.

For some families, the out-of-pocket cost of failing to meet the new criteria in one of the wellness programs was nearly $2,000 more per year. Those with medical conditions were exempt if they had waivers from their doctors.

Nearly half of the 12,102 enrollees who met criteria for a wellness program picked pedometer-based WalkingSpree, and the study's authors evaluated their success. The 6,548 participants were required to reach an average of 5,000 daily steps in each three month period, or 450,000 steps a quarter, to remain eligible for enhanced benefits. Just 3 percent failed to do so.

Among users who responded to a satisfaction survey about the program, a third were unhappy with the financial incentives because they felt the incentives were coercive. The remaining two-thirds of respondents, however, liked the program.

Authors note that policies under the Affordable Care Act are expected to expand the types of wellness programs offered by employers and insurance companies who ultimately save on health costs when employees and enrollees maintain healthier habits.

"Our findings suggest that incentivized wellness programs are acceptable to many individuals and that these programs encourage healthy behaviors," says lead author Donna Zulman, M.D., Instructor in the Division of General Medical Disciplines at Stanford University and research investigator at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System.

"Comprehensive evaluations are needed to determine whether participation in these programs translates to meaningful changes in health and costs of health care."

Additional Authors: Laura J. Damschroder, M.S., M.P.H.; Ryan G. Smith, B.S.; Paul J. Resnick, Ph.D.; Ananda Sen, Ph.D.; Erin L. Krupka, Ph.D.

Disclosures: Richardson is a scientific advisor to WalkingSpree and unpaid consultant to Blue Care Network. She does not receive compensation in either of these roles.

Reference: "Implementation and evaluation of an incentivized Internet-mediated walking program for obese adults," Translational Behavioral Medicine, Doi: 10.1007/s13142-013-0211-6.

Beata Mostafavi | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.umich.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Innovative genetic tests for children with developmental disorders and epilepsy
11.07.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

nachricht Oxygen loss in the coastal Baltic Sea is “unprecedentedly severe”
05.07.2018 | European Geosciences Union

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Subaru Telescope helps pinpoint origin of ultra-high energy neutrino

16.07.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Barium ruthenate: A high-yield, easy-to-handle perovskite catalyst for the oxidation of sulfides

16.07.2018 | Life Sciences

New research calculates capacity of North American forests to sequester carbon

16.07.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>