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Read Making a Killing

home / healthcare / in the media

CBS-TV Evening News (6:30 PM ET)
Oct 22, 2003

by ANCHOR: DAN RATHER, REPORTER: SANDRA HUGHES

Insurance companies using incentives to encourage members to become healthier

DAN RATHER, anchor: CBS closes tonight with a look at a new strategy by health insurance
companies. They hope to cut costs by offering bonus point rewards to customers who stay fit. This may help ensure healthy profits for them, but would it or would it not be good for you? Sandra Hughes followed the money for a look at the bottom line.

Mr. TODD GIANVITO (Destiny Health Plan Member): OK.

SANDRA HUGHES reporting: By exercising and staying healthy, Traci and Todd Gianvito have earned enough reward points to take a trip to Florida and...

Mr. GIANVITO: We'll be going to Europe next year using the airline miles and actually using the vacation package for part of the trip.

HUGHES: Destiny Health Care offers the Gianvitos incentives every time they visit a gym or work out. They even get points for taking CPR classes and doing charity runs.

Mrs. TRACI GIANVITO (Destiny Health Plan Member): We'll get kind of a--a--like, an incentive letter saying, kind of, 'Way to go. You're--you're doing well and earning points.' And they'll give us free movie tickets, which I think is kind of cool.

HUGHES: And it saves cool cash for their small Midwestern health-care provider and its parent company in South Africa.

Mr. ADRIAN GORE (Discovery Health): The financial level, it impacts dramatically on health-care costs. People are more prudent, they're more engaged in their health care.

HUGHES: In the US, where two-thirds of the population is considered overweight, more and more health-care companies are trying to pry their members off of the couch and into a healthier lifestyle.

Ms. TRACI SMITH (Blue Cross Member): I've lost 300 pounds total.

HUGHES: Traci Smith had success at the Lindora Weight Loss Clinic but couldn't afford to continue. Then she found out her insurance, Blue Cross, would pay for part of her plan.

Ms. SMITH: So I get not only a discount on my--my program, I get discounts on my products.

Mr. JAMIE COURT (HMO Expert): My question is: Is this really about getting Americans healthier?

HUGHES: Consumer advocates say these frequent jogger programs are ignoring a costly segment of the population.

Mr. COURT: This is very much, I think, a marketing strategy to attract the best risks. But what does that mean for the people who are sick or older or chronically ill?

HUGHES: For Destiny members Traci and Todd Gianvito, it's just the motivation they say they need to keep them from getting sick in the first place. Sandra Hughes, CBS News, Los Angeles.

RATHER: Part of our world tonight.

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