UnitedHealthcare Partners with Walgreens on Mobile App-Driven Reward Program

An integrated program which unites Walgreens’ Balance Rewards for healthy choices program with UnitedHealthcare’s Reward Me program, is available initially to plan members in Arizona and Illinois through the insurer’s Health4Me mobile app.

(The integrated rewards program will be available on UnitedHealthcare’s Health4Me mobile app.)

UnitedHealthcare (Minnetonka, Minn.) has announced a partnership with Walgreens (Deerfield, Ill.) to offer the insurer’s members reward points redeemable for Walgreens merchandise in return for their completing identified healthy activities. The partnership integrates Walgreens’ Balance Rewards for healthy choices program with UnitedHealthcare’s Reward Me program, and offers plan participants points via the Reward Me tab on the insurer’s Health4Me™mobile app, according to a joint statement.

Vidya Raman-Tangella, M.D., UnitedHealthcare.

Vidya Raman-Tangella, M.D., UnitedHealthcare.

“We have seen that rewarding healthy behavior can help people make sustained, positive behavior change,” comments Vidya Raman-Tangella, M.D., head of UnitedHealthcare’s Innovation Center of Excellence. “Our collaboration with Walgreens will play an important role in encouraging consumers to take a more active role in their overall health and well-being, and realizing the promise of a truly activated, engaged and supported consumer.”

Walgreens Balance Rewards for healthy choices program—which will be piloted with UnitedHealthcare fully insured health plan participants in Arizona and Illinois—is designed to encourage simple steps, or “micro-habits,” that have the potential to lead to a healthier life, according to the statement. The program gives health plans the ability to define activities for their plan customers to earn Balance Rewards points to help health plans meet higher patient engagement, as well as HEDIS and 5 Star Medicare quality goals.

“Through our Balance Rewards for healthy choices initiative, Walgreens encourages participants to adopt simple steps that can positively affect a person’s health, and collaborating with leading health plans such as UnitedHealthcare can further enhance the reach and impact of these programs,” comments Adam Pellegrini, divisional vice president of Digital Health, Walgreens.

Growing Consumer Demand for Rewards

Reward Me tab on UnitedHealthcare's Health4Me mobile app.

Reward Me tab on UnitedHealthcare’s Health4Me mobile app.

The integrated program addresses growing consumer demand for meaningful and relevant rewards that are easy to access and redeem both online and offline, according to Walgreens and UnitedHealthcare. Use of corporate wellness incentives has doubled since 2009, with employees earning $594 in incentives each year on average, according to a recent study from the National Business Group on Health.

UnitedHealthcare describes its mobile-enabled Reward Me program as a health-incentive initiative that enables plan participants to keep track of their physical activity, healthy food selections and other lifestyle choices that promote better well-being, and in the process earn discounts on products and services, including up to 50 percent off merchandise at a variety of national and local retailers. Health4Me is available on iPhone and Android devices to UnitedHealthcare plan participants and all consumers nationwide.

Expanding into Other Markets

UnitedHealthcare has enjoyed a very strong response to the Reward Me program since its debut about a year ago, according to Will Shanley, a spokesman for the insurer. “Now with integration with the Walgreens program, we will see how that goes and look to expanding into other markets,” he says. “It’s too early to discuss plans beyond Arizona and Illinois, but hopefully the response will be positive and we’ll have an opportunity to bring this to more of our members.”


Anthony R. O’Donnell // Anthony O'Donnell is Executive Editor of Insurance Innovation Reporter. For nearly two decades, he has been an observer and commentator on the use of information technology in the insurance industry, following industry trends and writing about the use of IT across all sectors of the insurance industry. He can be reached at AnthODonnell@IIReporter.com or (503) 936-2803.

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