Getting fit has its many rewards, like helping you maintain an ideal weight, build muscle, and boost your energy and mood. If you haven’t gotten started just yet in the new year, you might need to look no further than technology for some motivation.
Some of the best apps and wearable fitness trackers can log your exercise data, monitor your diet and total up the number of miles you run or calories you’ve burned … everything short of going to the gym for you.
Then there are those that can help you save on health insurance costs. Various insurance providers and health-related companies are tapping into wearable technology to enable their customers to stay in shape, offering them wellness discounts and other benefits after they meet a required number of fitness goals.
Health insurance upstart Oscar also practices what it preaches by giving each of its customers a Misfit fitness band to track your physical movements and day-to-day activity -- even monitoring when you sleep -- for rewards once you meet your goals. The Bluetooth-enabled band then uses the accompanying app on your cell phone to alert Oscar that you’ve reached (or surpassed) your goal.
Successfully reach your goals, and Oscar policyholders can earn a dollar a day towards Amazon gift cards, according to Entrepreneur, which can add up to $20 per month or $240 per year. The site says that average daily goals may be to take 10,000 steps/walk five miles, standing up to move around every half hour, and getting at least seven hours of sleep a night.
Recently, plans to gamify its wellness program were in the works, offering contests and promos for policyholders to compete against other policyholders in other regions or cities to see who emerges the fittest.
UnitedHealthcare/Fitbit Charge 2
The employer-sponsored wellness program under this insurer is called UnitedHealthcare Motion F.I.T. (Frequency, Intensity and Tenacity). Wearers of the Fitbit Charge 2 get to track their physical activity and mark their progress, where reaching fitness goals means being rewarded with credits that can be applied towards healthcare savings.
The Motion program was started last year and allows participating policyholders to earn up to $4 a day in credits when they reach one or more fitness-oriented goals under each of the three parts of F.I.T. According to Mobi Health News, up to $1,500 in credits can be earned and used towards a Health Savings or Health Reimbursement Account.
Pact Health/Fitbit & Jawbone
Pact is the wellness tracking app that combines fitness goals with a lottery flair, where members put up their own money for rewards. Meet your fitness goals, get paid, miss your fitness goals, pay for the ones who did.
The app recently branched off to form Pact Health, a health plan for employers to incentivize their employees to improve their health and cut back on their health insurance costs, literally having the ability to raise or lower their annual premiums according to their commitment to exercise.
Tracked via the Pact app (or similar), or through wearables like a Fitbit or Jawbone, members who reach their ultimate fitness goals can essentially lower their deductible with every workout with a 1:1 reward-to-punishment ratio, receiving a $5 discount on their deductible -- or lose $5 if they fall short of their goals. Participants stand to earn up to $1,000 annually in added coverage benefits, according to Insurance Tech.
OptimaHealth/Fitbit & app
Another insurance provider, OptimaHealth, rewards members up to $275 in incremental steps, including a free Fitbit when they take part in its proprietary OptimaFit program.
OptimaHealth’s program differs slightly from similar incentives because the total reward is paid out incrementally as participants complete each of the four steps in the challenge:
Step one: fill out a personal health assessment questionnaire for a Fitbit valued at $100
Step two: track your nutrition for 21 days for $50 cash
Step three: wear the Fitbit during any and all physical activities, 20 to 30 minutes a day, for at least nine out of 28 days, to be eligible for $75 in cash
Step four: download the provider’s app on your smartphone and log your weight for 14 days, for a final $50 reward.
The life insurance company may not specialize in health benefits, but they’ll rewards ratepayers with points and give up to a 15 percent discount on their life insurance premiums when they use a Fitbit to track their exercise progress. Customers who sign up for the program -- a partnership with wellness company Vitality -- will receive a free Fitbit wrist monitor that tracks your physical or health-related activities, like exercising or yearly checkups.
The points can add up, too. Customers may earn up to 30 points per day for regular physical activity, 200 points for a dental screening, 400 points when you get a flu shot, and 500 points every year if you participate in an event, like a 5K/10K or cancer walk.
In addition to using the Fitbit for a 15 percent reduction on your rates, you can redeem those points for other perks, like gift cards or travel rewards.
Other honorable mentions
Several other insurance providers have taken advantage of utilizing fitness tracking technology and data sharing to improve the health of its members and empower them to exercise and embrace wellness.
Cigna members can earn up to $750 per year in policy premium discounts, or cash or HSA funds when they use wearable devices or sign up for wellness coaching
Aetna is also partnering with none other than Apple to provide members discounts on the purchase of an Apple Watch. The insurer said in late 2016 that it would begin subsidizing partial cost of the $400 smart devices, allowing customers to cover the remainder of the cost through monthly payroll deduction costs.
Humana, in its own wellness extension, provides participating members the chance to use fitness tracking devices towards 10 percent in annual premium discounts, as well as Amazon and Target rewards gift cards
Sticking to fitness goals can literally pay themselves off for your health and for your wallet. And it’s not just in insurance premiums. Exercising more boosts your immune system and keep ailments at bay, necessitating fewer doctors visits and lower out-of-pocket costs to pay.
A fitness tracker or your favorite wellness app can help you reach these goals and more. Use them to try out new exercises or activities you haven’t tried before, like finding a local spin class, or a running group. Challenge yourself to new goals, like training for a triathlon, or climbing the tallest mountain. And if you’ve accomplished all these feats and more, just stay the course and experience the wealth of mind, body and budget to benefit from.
Image: Chinese Herbals