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Read Making a Killing

home / healthcare / in the media

CBS Radio News - The Osgood File
Apr 26, 2004

by REPORTER: CHARLES OSGOOD

Health care companies offering incentives to jog

CHARLES OSGOOD reporting: It's not only frequent fliers who earn bonus airline miles, it's frequent joggers.

OSGOOD: When Todd and Tracy Jambito run or visit a gym and work out, they get airline mileage and other bonus points.

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

OSGOOD: Not from the airline, airlines don't care how much you jog, but from their health care plan, Destiny Health Care.

Ms. TRACY JAMBITO: We'll get kind of a--like an incentive letter saying kind of 'Way to go. You're doing well. You're earning points' and they'll give us free movie tickets, which I think is kind of cool.

OSGOOD: The companies have good incentive to give the people they're insuring an incentive to stay healthy, says Adrian Gore of Destiny Health Care's parent company in South Africa, Discovery Holdings.

Mr. ADRIAN GORE: At the financial level, it affects dramatically health care costs. People are more prudent, they're more engaged in their health care.

OSGOOD: That's why Blue Cross helped to pay Tracy Smith for her sessions at the Lendora Weight Loss Clinic. Her loss...

Ms. TRACY SMITH: I've lost 300 pounds total.

OSGOOD: ...well, that was their gain. They want to encourage her.

Ms. SMITH: I get not only a discount on my programs, I get discounts on my products.

OSGOOD: Sounds like a win/win situation. But in health care, as in politics, there are always those who think every time you do something for somebody you obviously must be doing something to somebody else.

Mr. JAMIE COURT: My question is, is this really about getting Americans healthier?

OSGOOD: Some consumer advocates, like HMO expert Jamie Court, think that the health insurance companies are only thinking about their own financial health.

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?

OSGOOD: Can you make everybody happy? The answer to that question is, no, you can't.

THE OSGOOD FILE. Charles Osgood on the CBS Radio network.

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