A NYTimes article highlights the growing health incentive industry. It describes the value of incentives play in kick-starting better health habits and how new technology enables the ability to measure the impact of incentives. The current health care environment may be the perfect storm for incentive companies: escalating health care costs (the majority of which are preventable by engaging in healthy behaviors) coupled with the emergence of useful measurement technology (e.g., digital dietary devices and applications).
Additionally, the Health Care Reform Bill includes a provision for employers to offer employees a premium discount of up to 30% (instead of the current 20%). Offering incentives for health and wellness in the form of insurance premium discounts is one method for driving program participation. This links the cost of health care to lifestyle behaviors, increasing employees’ awareness of how their actions affect medical costs.
We as health promoters must be sure to base our incentive practices on science to achieve effective behavior change. An example of a science-based approach is how the incentive solution company IncentOne (Lyndhurst, NJ) has analyzed scientific studies and their own collected data to determine the monetary incentive value that drives optimal participation. The greater the participation, the greater the benefit to the entire organization.