IQ expert Jason Beans: Going the extra mile to get fitness discounts
Q: My health insurer doesn’t give me any benefits for staying active. How can I get discounts for going to the gym?
A: First, pat yourself on the back for staying active. Studies show the more physically fit you are, the less likely you are to get sick, suffer injuries, struggle with depression or cope with some types of cancer.
If you are self-insured, your health is likely considered in your overall rates. If you are insured through an employer or large group, healthy living cuts costs for everyone, but you may not feel the direct effect that much.
While your health insurance provider may not have a cut-and-dried system in place for discounts that reward your positive lifestyle, you may be able to get some form of benefit from your employer or carrier, or at least be able to find some tools to keep you motivated. Here are six steps for you to follow:
1. Take the initiative.
Oftentimes, an employer might not have any sort of incentive program when it comes to fitness because no one’s had the time or the ability to secure any deals. Ask to speak with the membership managers at local gyms and let them know you work for a company that might be interested in a corporate membership. Collect the information and give it to your human resources representative with a plan for introducing discounts to employees who participate in a fitness program.
2. Engage your co-workers.
An employer will be much more likely to launch a program if it affects a sizable part of the staff. If you can come up with a program on your own and present it to management as a company initiative, you are more apt to get support from your employer.
3. Ask your insurer about perks.
While your carrier may not provide discounts, some offer programs that get you free perks (even gift cards) for logging your workouts each day on their websites. Signing up for these programs is free and can result in some hefty prizes.
4. Do your homework.
Make sure you aren’t missing out on a perk with your insurer. For instance, your health insurer may offer rebates ranging from 5 percent to 50 percent off your monthly fitness club fees.
5. Look for rewards.
Switch2Health has teamed up with big retailers like Sears and Best Buy to reward you and your family for staying fit. You record and upload what you do through an activity tracker, and earn points toward gift cards at stores nationwide. This is a great tool for families to use to stay bonded and competitive.
6. Develop an appetite for apps.
Smartphone apps that support health and fitness communities are abundant. Some, such as Nexercise, reward you through partnerships with retailers and fitness centers. So you receive discounts for your sweat.
You can act on all of these suggestions and hope at least one of them comes to fruition. So while your health insurer may not be giving you the direct benefits that you’re looking for, a wealth of resources are available for doing just that. Stay proactive in your pursuit, and the perks will come to you physically, mentally and materially. Always keep in mind that taking care of yourself will pay off in more affordable health insurance and a better quality of life.
Jason Beans is CEO of Chicago-based Rising Medical Solutions, a medical cost containment/care management company serving the workers’ compensation, group health, auto and liability markets. Beans founded Rising in 1999. Since then, Beans has received a number of honors, including Business Council Advisory Man of the Year and Midwest finalist for Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Rising has appeared several times on the Private Company Index’s Top 10 Growth list and Inc. magazine’s Inc. 5000 list.
Beans earned a master’s degree from MIT’s Entrepreneurial Masters Program and a bachelor’s degree in finance from Boston College.
For more information, visit www.risingms.com.
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