Insurance incentives keep customers happy, loyal

More insurance companies are seeing the benefits of providing members with incentives and rewards for being healthy rather than only administering penalties for negative behavior, Investor's Business Daily reports.

More insurance companies are seeing the benefits of providing members with incentives and rewards for being healthy rather than only administering penalties for negative behavior, Investor's Business Daily reports.

The payoff for this customer satisfaction management is positive for everyone involved. Employers benefit because healthy employees are likely to have cheaper health insurance, employees earn rewards provided by the insurance companies while improving their health and insurers gain customer loyalty and satisfaction for their good deeds.

For instance, UnitedHealth's Personal Rewards program allows people with chronic conditions to earn discounts for completing tasks on a personalized health road map. This includes receiving certain tests, meeting with a doctor regularly and agreeing to wellness coaching. Members can rack up savings of as much as $1,200 per year if they take full advantage.

"You could easily succeed," Yasmine Winkler, Senior Vice President of Product and Innovation at UnitedHealthcare, told the news source. "We're making it as easy as possible."

The Houston Chronicle points out that another insurer, Blue Cross Blue Shield, deploys a similar form of motivation. It offers a healthy risk assessment that requires members to record eating habits and exercise during a one-week period, with the possibility of earning points (up to 2,500 per assessment) toward items like Starbucks gift cards, yoga mat shoulder holders, movie tickets and springform pans.

The policy holder's employer - betting on employees to take advantage of the offer and lower their healthcare costs, agrees to pay for the incentives.

IBD notes that thus far, more than 75 percent of UnitedHealth's rewards participants have earned points, with more than half having received some type of reward already. They're also becoming healthier in the process - members have seen an average weight loss of 4.5 percent.

The insurer hopes to expand rewards options to gift cards (similar to Blue Cross) and other prizes, as well as develop a mobile app to help track program status and offer health-related games.

While health insurers are doing their part to ensure the safety of its members, auto insurance companies aren't slouching off either. The news source reports that Progressive is offering policies that reduce costs for safe drivers under its Snapshot program.

Drivers install a device into their cars for one month. The machine monitors driving patterns, providing insight about both good driving behavior as well as bad habits, such as sudden, hard braking.