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Wellness Programs with Positive Incentives Linked to Reduced Hospital Costs

A new study shows that wellness programs incorporating positive incentives can lead to behavior changes that, over time, can lower healthcare costs. The study by Discovery Vitality researched more than 300,000 participants over a five-year period and showed that active members had decreased hospitalizations and claims costs. The study is published in the May/June issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion.

Among the findings: the percentage of members using the gym one or more times a week increased by almost 23 percent, and over time, the percentage of members who joined the gym but were inactive decreased by 8 percent.

Of the 300,000 adult members of the Discovery Health plan being assessed; roughly two thirds were registered with the Vitality wellness program, while one third were not. Researchers charted members' engagement with fitness activities over a three-year period and medical claims data over the fourth and fifth years. Vitality members were given incentives to participate in fitness activities, which were measured based on the frequency of electronically documented gym visits and other verifiable activities.

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Source: The Vitality Group, May 2, 2011


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