(Wearable fitness device. Source: fitbit)
Cigna-HealthSpring, a Cigna-owned (Bloomfield, Conn.) health plan serving the elderly through Medicare Advantage and other Medicare and Medicaid products, has announced a new fitness benefit that includes the use of wearable technology as a sales and retention measure as well as an incentive to healthful behavior. The benefit is provided through the Silver&Fit Exercise and Healthy Aging program, a product of health service organization American Specialty Health Incorporated (ASH).
Extra benefits that aren’t covered by Original Medicare, such as vision, dental, hearing and fitness, are important to many of Cigna-HealthSpring’s customers when they are selecting a Medicare Advantage plan according to Dirk Wales, M.D., the company’s chief medical officer. “It’s our goal to offer benefits that suit our customers health needs and wants and a fitness benefit is a consistently popular item,” Wales comments. “We see our role as being a good partner in our customer’s health care and making a fitness benefit available to a majority of our customers is just one aspect of how we deliver on that promise.”
The program will provide customers access to their choice of participating fitness facilities from among over 11,000 contracted businesses, including national chains, YMCAs and local community exercising centers. Plan members will be able to access all standard amenities of such facilities, such as weight training equipment, cardio equipment and group fitness classes, as well as pools, saunas and exercise classes in some participating facilities.
Cigna-HealthSpring customers who prefer to exercise at home are eligible for a Home Fitness program, which provides kits for various kinds of exercise, supported by instructional materials, such as DVDs, booklets and guides.
Customers can also receive rewards for exercise when they wear personal activity trackers, such as pedometers and apps that are part of the Silver&Fit Connected! program. Through Silver&Fit Connected!, activity data will be automatically tracked and downloaded to the customer’s personal web page at SilverandFit.com, so they can see their activity at a glance.
Lower Health Costs
The value of the program also includes the benefits of social interaction a gym can offer from group exercise classes and other activities, according to Cigna-HealthSpring’s Wales. “For many of our customers, having our clinical team set them up with a regular exercise routine, even if just light walking, can help manage and control disease or prevent certain medical conditions, such as high blood pressure and heart disease,” he says. “A more active lifestyle can result in happier, healthier lives for our customers, and lower health care costs for everyone.”