“Some health insurers are giving members cash rewards when they choose less-expensive healthcare providers or have procedures or tests performed at lower-priced facilities.” — Karen Appold

In an effort to make a broken healthcare system work, payers around the country are offering cash to patients willing to shop around and choose less-expensive providers and facilities that offer more affordable treatments.

An article in Managed Healthcare Executive about these incentives noted that, “In return for choosing a more cost-effective, quality facility, members receive a check ranging from $25 to $500 depending on where they receive care.”

The question is, do these incentives actually work?

Download Now: Benefit Strategy Design: Solving an Impossible Task

Ongoing Payer-Backed Incentives Aren’t an End-All Solution

Providing cash rewards is clearly working for some insurers. After three years, Priority Health saved $7 million in healthcare costs while only giving out $1.2 million in incentives.

The hope is that these savings will continue as patients get more used to the idea of shopping around for more affordable treatments, rather than just following the recommendation of their provider.

But simply doling out cash isn’t an end-all solution. Like shifting to high-deductible plans, providing cash incentives on an ongoing basis is simply a bandage on a much larger problem. In addition, by only choosing treatment solutions based on price, there's no guarantee that patients are actually getting the care they need.

Vera Incentives Are Part of a Plan

At Vera, incentives work differently. Patients are offered incentives for completing an initial clinical visit to complete their Annual Whole Health Evaluation.

The evaluation includes a 60-minute provider visit, biometric screening, and health coaching session. Instead of handing out incentives only when people get sick and need care, our incentives introduce patients to their clinic. Once they’ve engaged, our exceptional clinical experience encourages them to make repeat visits and keep up with preventive care practices.

By providing incentives early on, Vera centers a patient’s focus on getting healthier, not getting paid. Why? Because the best way to save money on healthcare is to lead a healthier lifestyle.

Early incentives are just part of Vera’s strategy to create and maintain high patient engagement.

At the City of Kirkland, incentives, along with clear communication strategies, led to a patient engagement rate of nearly 90% after two years. Want to read more? Check out our white paper: Benefit Strategy Design: Solving an Impossible Task.

Benefit Strategy Design: Solving an impossible task - download white paper

Back to blog