Approximately 40% of American adults are obese; according to the CDC’s latest figures this adds $140 billion in healthcare costs each year. You can bet that the insurance industry would like to see a turnaround in these figures. Long-term adherence to fitness and healthy nutrition programs is a challenge for all parties. There’s no silver bullet; smarter lifestyle choices are the only hope for a healthier population. Employers and insurance companies keep trying to encourage people to take active roles in their health and fitness with reward programs, reduced benefits costs, and subsidized fitness devices and health club memberships. We’ve written about the Zurich Life Assurance financial rewards program. A recent study from the National Business Group on Health reports that employee health incentives are now common with large employers.
The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBS) recently announced that Blue365 — the insurance company’s members-only health and wellness program — has a new partnership with Fitbit. To encourage members to create and stick to healthy lifestyle practices, 60 million plus BCBS members now can buy Fitbit wearables at a discount. Members will receive more than 30% discounts and free shipping on a variety of devices including the Fitbit Flex 2, Charge 2, Alta HR, Ionic, and Versa. Blue365 offers the discount when members sign up for Tivity Health‘s Fitness your Way monthly membership program and maintain membership for at least two months.
It would be easy to argue that a 30% discount on a fitness wearable isn’t that big a deal, especially when tied to an additional monthly cost, even if for a limited time commitment. Similar or greater discounts off Fitbit retail prices are easy to find online. The greater point, however, is that no one has yet discovered a fitness device, workout program, nutrition plan, or any other solution that works for everyone. It’s most likely there is no single solution to unhealthy lifestyles for everyone. Clearly BCBS is betting that these incentives will provide a net reduction in their overall costs.