Paid to Get Healthy? UnitedHealthcare Pilots Fitness App That Rewards Progress

Paid to Get Healthy UnitedHealthcare Pilots Fitness App That Rewards ProgressCould people soon be “paid” to practice healthier behaviors?

It might be enticing enough to make people do jumping jacks. Word has just reached us that UnitedHealthcare is developing a new app that “offers financial incentives for users who practice healthful behavior.”

Minneapolis-based UnitedHealthcare is now piloting the iPhone app — dubbed “Reward Me” — in Arizona and Illinois. The pilot offers a bevy of rewards based on both usage of the app as well as achievements in four defined categories: healthy eating, relaxation, healthy activity, and life style.

According to Kirk Pion, vice president and Innovation Champion for UnitedHealth, “We wanted to acknowledge what people were doing every day to stay healthy.”

A story on this development was recently published by MedCityNews.

What about the rewards?

“Rewards run the gamut, depending on the markets and which retailers partner with UnitedHealth,” noted MedCityNews. “Pion said some examples include discounts on apparel, like Puma for instance, or deals on yoga classes, Quiznos or Jamba Juice, among others.”

Pion said retail partners would be sought who undergird the message of healthy behaviors (so don’t get your hopes up, Dairy Queen). Pion also noted that the Health4Me app enjoyed a user increase of 43 percent as a result of the integration in the two pilot markets.

“The app is viewed as both a means to engage users and expose more people to the Health4Me app, a pricing transparency tool that United upgraded recently to include mobile payments and wearables,” according to MedCityNews. “Pion said Reward Me and Health4Me have been integrated, with the hope of making once-burdensome activities like payments more seamless.”

What makes Reward Me different from other fitness apps, according to UnitedHealthcare, is that users are automatically rewarded.

“You’re getting something just for being a member. All you have to do is sign up,” Pion said. “It’s getting that immediate benefit. The more a member uses Reward Me, the bigger the incentives and discounts get.”

The pilot will continue through 2015; UnitedHealthcare plans to add new markets in coming months. A bigger, UnitedHealthcare-wide roll-out for the app could come as early as 2016. Also in the works is an Android app now being developed.

In addition to the health benefits to consumers, Pion said one motivation is to make health insurance more consumer-friendly.

“We can show people the value of insurance beyond a claim,” Pion said. “We’re trying to say even if you don’t use healthcare services, there’s a good reason for you to have insurance.”

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