Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Healthy Living and Insurance: By the Numbers

When it comes to the relationship between healthy lifestyles and insurance costs, we tend towards ambivalence: on the one hand, there's no question that choosing healthy foods and habits is a good thing; on the other, there's scant evidence that this will dramatically reduce insurance premiums.
So of course we'll muddy the waters a bit more, with some news from United HealthCare. UHC recently emailed agents some information on the (potential) relationship of healthy choices and lower premiums. Based in part on the 2009 Employer Survey on Purchasing Value in Health Care (by Watson Wyatt), we learn that two thirds of those surveyed claim their employees' poor health choices are the "biggest challenge to maintaining affordable health care coverage."
Left unremarked in the UHC email was this little tidbit:
"51 percent of companies have a CDHP in place — nearly a 9 percent increase over last year. Enrollment rates in CDHPs are also increasing at a pace of two percentage points per year, rising to 12 percent in 2008."
That's great news for those of us who think that encouraging insureds to be more proactive, and to take a greater role in their health care and insurance, is a good idea.
Another survey, this one by Buck Consultants, found that over half of the surveyed employers intended to "actively pursue a culture of health for the future." It's not clear what that means; one presumes this would include stop-smoking programs, some kind of regular excercise incentive, that kind of thing.
The carrier even included a handy flyer that can be printed out (and distributed) which recaps some of the findings and offers helpful suggestions.
Kudos to UHC for making this information available.
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