BLOOMFIELD, Conn., January 08, 2009 - It’s another new year, and once again people have resolved to get active, lose weight, quit smoking or make other healthy changes in their lives. While it’s fairly easy to make New Year’s resolutions, for many of us it’s a lot harder to keep them. For some, earning rewards -- like a gift card at a major retailer in return for completing an online coaching program, or merchandise, such as clothing, jewelry or electronics, for completing a series of health screenings -- is just what’s needed to turn the best of intentions into everyday action.
That’s why people who are covered by a Cigna health plan now have the opportunity to earn points that are redeemable for gift cards, merchandise and other rewards, such as travel packages, as part of the new Cigna Incentive Points Program, which became available January 1 to Cigna's employer customers who choose to offer it to their employees.
Employees enrolled in the program can monitor the accumulation and redemption of their points through myCigna.com, much as they can monitor their accounts in airline, hotel and other rewards programs. The standard plan allows individuals to earn up to 200 points in a calendar year, but the employer has flexibility to set the cap.
They can earn points for participating in a variety of health-related activities, such as completing a health assessment or biometric screenings; reaching milestones in any of Cigna's eight disease management programs, such as programs for diabetes, heart disease or depression; or actively participating in a lifestyle management program such as Cigna's Quit TodaySM tobacco cessation program.
“The concept is simple,” says Tom Richards, senior vice president of product for Cigna. “The more activities you participate in, the more points you earn; and the more you participate, the more opportunities you have to stay healthy or to improve your health.”
With a point equal to $1, employees enrolled in some health plans will also be able to convert their points to a cash contribution to a health reimbursement account or use them to defray health care premiums once the program is fully rolled out later this year.
“When it comes to helping people make healthy behavior change, what really matters most is understanding an individual’s motivation for making that change,” said Jodi Prohofsky, Ph.D., senior vice president of health solutions operations at Cigna. “We’ve had great success with our coaching-based programs - like the Quit Today tobacco cessation program - which focus on discovering an individual’s personal motivators for change. But some people need a little push in the right direction, and research shows that incentives can motivate people to participate in wellness programs that can help drive healthy behavior change.”
According to a recent survey1, 71 percent of major U.S. employers were using some type of incentive in 2008 to encourage participation in company-sponsored health and wellness programs, up from 62 percent in 2007; and the percentage of employers using gift cards as an incentive increased from 17 percent in 2007 to 28 percent in 2008.
Unlike some other incentives programs, Cigna's points program is focused on individuals across the entire health continuum.
“Our program is targeted to everyone – the healthy, the at-risk, and also those who are coping with an acute or chronic illness or condition,” Cigna's Richards said. “Our goal is to keep healthy people healthy, prevent at-risk people from developing an illness, and restore the health and vitality of those people who now have an illness or other health condition. No matter where a person falls on the health continuum, our points program is designed to encourage behavior that will maintain, improve or restore an individual’s health.”
Cigna (NYSE:CI), a global health service company, is dedicated to helping people improve their health, well-being and security. Cigna Corporation's operating subsidiaries provide an integrated suite of medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy and vision care benefits, as well as group life, accident and disability insurance, to approximately 47 million people throughout the United States and around the world. To learn more about Cigna, visit www.cigna.com.
1 “Employee Health & Productivity Management Programs: The Use of Incentives - A Survey of Major U.S. Employers,” by Health2Resources and Harkey Research, June 2008.