UnitedHealth’s New Rewards Program

By: James Flippin · February 16, 2023 · Reading Time: 3 minutes

Adapting to the ACA

The Affordable Care Act, which was passed over a decade ago, prohibits health insurance companies from charging extra for pre-existing conditions.

While this may be considered a win for consumers, it presents an ongoing challenge for insurance companies, particularly as they face the rising cost of healthcare. In 2021, total healthcare spending reached almost $13,000 per person.

But some health insurers may have finally found a solution.

Healthy Rewards

If they can’t penalize you for being unhealthy, why not incentivize you to be healthy?

That’s what some insurance providers are thinking, at least. UnitedHealth (UNH), a massive network insuring 26 million Americans, is now offering a program that rewards you for hitting healthy milestones, such as 5,000 daily steps or 15 minutes of exercise per day. For hitting these goals, members can earn cash gift cards of up to $1,000 annually.

To track your progress, UnitedHealth plans to use wearables — like an Apple Watch (AAPL) or a FitBit (GOOGL) — to measure your steps, blood pressure, cholesterol, and more.

Who Can Earn?

To start, UnitedHealth is only offering this rewards program to its 3 million members on fully-insured plans. However, it plans to roll the program out to members on self-insured plans at some point next year. Meanwhile, many other insurers, such as VitalityHealth, already offer similar programs.

It’s worth noting that there are some privacy concerns over giving insurers full access to your personal health data. The American Medical Association warns that, while insurers may claim to use your data to reward you for good health, “there are no regulations stopping them from doing the opposite.”

On the flipside, these programs could bring in extra cash to help offset the cost of your health insurance. With medical costs already so high, many may welcome these rewards — not to mention the free accountability partner they provide.

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