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Health Insurers Expand Preventive Offerings

February 19, 2009
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In response to employer demand that health insurers improve diabetes care management, health plans are adopting benefit design approaches that encourage patients to take better care of this condition, according to a report released Wednesday, February 11.

In addition, the report, co-sponsored by the National Business Coalition on Health and the Integrated Benefits Institute, found that health plans are embracing health promotion services.

To promote changes in behavior to reduce diabetes risk among plan participants, 54 percent of health plans offer rewards to patients for completing a health risk appraisal, 29 percent offer rewards for participating in health coaching, 57 percent offer a reward for participation in a disease management program, 27 percent waive co-payments for some pharmacy services and equipment, and 17 percent waive office visit fees for ongoing treatment.

In fully insured programs, 77 percent of health plans offer health promotion and wellness programs, 81 percent offer health risk assessments and 62 percent offer smoking-cessation products.

The availability of health promotion products was slightly lower in self-insured programs. For example, health risk assessments are bundled in the standard administrative services-only fee in 57 percent of self-insured plans; health promotion and wellness in 54 percent of plans; work-site wellness programs in 18 percent of plans; and smoking cessation support in 35 percent of self-insured plans.

The report was derived from data collected as part of NBCH’s eValue8, a tool used by employers and coalitions to measure and compare health plans. In 2008, more than 150 health maintenance organization and preferred provider organization plans responded to the eValue8 tool.

(To read "Appeals Court Rules Diabetes a Disability," click here.)

Filed by Joanne Wojcik of Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail editors@workforce.com.

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