Prevention: insurer to pay Y to keep its customers fit

April 14, 2010

United HealthGroup is trying to act on research that shows keeping patients healthy can cut costs for everyone, including the insurance company. The firm is going to start paying the Y.M.C.A. to offer weight loss and nutrition counseling to consumers who are at risk for developing diabetes. Research has shown that losing just a few pounds can dramatically reduce the risk of an overweight person developing the disease. That weight loss is no doubt a marker for other lifestyle changes that come with a commitment to eating better and exercising. This kind of policy is likely to be more common once insurance companies shift from trying to keep risky customers out of their business to finding ways to reduce the risk that comes with accepting all comers regardless of their health condition. This story from the New York Times details the company’s initiative.

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