Health care is like the rest of life: financial incentives work

You’ve been meaning to get started on a fitness program to stay healthier, but you haven’t got around to it. That sounds like a lot of us.

But what if it meant $125 a year off your insurance premiums?

It’s not a lot of money. In fact, you might spend more on some workout clothes and running shoes. Small incentives, though, can spur people to take actions they know they should take anyway. Author Cass Sunstein would call it a “nudge” – a small incentive that helps people choose a better path.

Now some state employees and retirees will have the chance to use a small nudge to improve their health, and hopefully save taxpayers money. A Bellevue company called Limeade is partnering with the state Health Care Authority to encourage state employees to improve their health.

Many governments and businesses have tried different wellness programs, with mixed results, but I’ve seen myself the results Limeade can help employees achieve. Using grant funding, we utilized Limeade at the Attorney General’s Office to great effect. Agency employees were moving more and tracking their progress with Limeade’s apps.

I don’t doubt that, used on a larger scale, this program can help lower state employee health care costs. We know what the cost drivers are in health care. It’s not routine exams and preventative care, or treating injuries and temporary conditions. We spend a fortune treating chronic, preventable conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. That’s why health care spending has skyrocketed.

It might seem that preserving your own health should be inspiration enough to get more active but we know that, as people live their day-to-day lives, other priorities crowd out exercise. Long-term health takes a backseat to the here-and-now.

That’s why programs like Limeade’s can be so effective. A clear-cut plan, consistent encouragement, and a small financial incentive can be the difference between “I know I should” and “I’m making it happen.”

Will it save the state money on employee health care costs? Time will tell, but this program is worth a try. I’ve seen it work myself.
-Rob McKenna

 

Bellevue startup inks $15 million contract with Washington state to pay employees to be healthier

Rachel Lerman
Staff Writer-Puget Sound Business Journal

Running a 5K will help Washington state employees save $125 each year under a new partnership between the state and Bellevue tech startup Limeade.

The state Health Care Authority signed a five-year, $15 million contract with Limeade to use its engagement platform to help employees get healthier.

Limeade creates a mobile and web platform for companies to use to incentivize their employees to get healthier. Employees can find activities and make personalized plans to improve their health.

To read more…http://www.bizjournals.com/seattle/blog/health-care-inc/2014/08/bellevue-startup-inks-15-million-contract-with.html

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Rob McKenna
Rob served two terms as Washington’s Attorney General, from 2005 to 2013. He successfully argued three cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and negotiated three of the largest consumer financial protection settlements in national history, all involving mortgage lending and servicing. He is a recognized leader in the development of consumer protections on the internet, in data protection and privacy regulation.