Navigation Links
Gym benefits help Medicare plans recruit healthy seniors
Date:1/11/2012

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] Because healthy enrollees cost them less, Medicare Advantage plans would profit from selecting seniors based on their health, but Medicare strictly forbids practices such as denying coverage based on existing conditions. Another way to build a more profitable membership is to design insurance benefits that attract the healthiest patients. In a study published in the Jan. 12, 2012, edition of the New England Journal of Medicine, Brown University researchers report that plans have managed to do just that by offering fitness club memberships as a covered benefit.

"Offering a fitness membership does not mean that you are denying people coverage, but you are changing your benefits to appeal selectively to people who are healthy," said co-author Amal Trivedi, a Brown public health professor and a physician at the Providence VA Medical Center. "Policymakers intended for Medicare Advantage plans to compete on the basis of improving quality and reducing costs, rather than on their ability to attract healthier patients. What we found in the study is that offering coverage for fitness membership is a very effective strategy to attract a much healthier population."

That conclusion comes from Trivedi's and lead author Alicia Cooper's rigorous statistical comparisons among thousands of patients in 22 Medicare Advantage plans 11 "case" plans that added fitness club memberships in 2004 or 2005 and 11 similar "control" plans that didn't. They looked at when each plan member enrolled, when plans started offering the benefit, and what each plan member said about his or her health in the Medicare Health Outcomes Survey from 2006 to 2008.

One analysis compared the self-reported health of seniors who enrolled in case plans before the fitness club benefit was offered to the health of those who enrolled after the benefit was offered. While 29.1 percent of the seniors who enrolled before the benefit was available described themselves to be in excellent or very good health, 35.1 percent of the seniors who enrolled after it became available reported that level of health. In the before group, 56.1 percent reported some limitation to their physical activity but only 45.7 percent in the after group did. Also, a third of the before group reported difficulty walking compared to just a quarter in the after group.

Once the Medicare Advantage plans started covering health club memberships, they enrolled healthier enrollees with fewer physical limitations. In the control plans, which did not offer the benefit, self-reported health levels over the same timeframe changed only slightly. In comparison to the control plans, eight of the 11 case plans (the ones that added fitness club coverage) enrolled seniors with better overall health, 10 of the 11 case plans enrolled seniors with fewer restrictions in physical activity, and nine of the 11 case plans enrolled seniors that had less difficulty walking.

An increasing practice

Trivedi and Cooper studied the benefit structures of 101 Medicare Advantage health plans between 2002 and 2008 to select plans for comparison. What they found is a rapid growth in the number of plans offering fitness club memberships, from 14 in 2002 to 58 in 2008.

"This trend suggests that offering fitness memberships may be an attractive business strategy for Medicare plans," Trivedi said.

Trivedi acknowledged that if every plan offered the fitness benefits, it would no longer be an effective way of selecting for the healthiest members. However, given the continued incentive to enroll more profitable enrollees, he said, insurers may employ other related tactics to cherry-pick desirable enrollees.

"In general, policymakers have regulated the Medicare Advantage insurance market to prevent the ability of private plans to select the healthiest enrollees," Trivedi said. "If Medicare plans do engage in favorable selection, then unhealthy enrollees can be concentrated in a small number of plans or in the traditional Medicare program, driving up the costs for those enrollees and the tax-payers that fund the Medicare program."


'/>"/>
Contact: David Orenstein
david_orenstein@brown.edu
401-863-1862
Brown University
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Treatment with light benefits Alzheimers patients, Wayne State University finds
2. Benefits of statin therapy may extend beyond lowering lipids
3. The benefits of cardiac resynchronisation therapy in heart failure
4. Publicly releasing inspection data on meat processing facilities could have substantial benefits
5. Does Psoriasis Thwart the Benefits of Good Cholesterol?
6. Kessler Foundation reports benefits of behavioral technique for cognitive rehabilitation in MS
7. Cooking Class Benefits Kids in Many Ways
8. Quality of life benefits of transcatheter aortic valve replacement differ by access site
9. Benefits of nut consumption for people with abdominal obesity, high blood sugar, high blood pressure
10. Increased use of bikes for commuting offers economic, health benefits
11. Glaucoma Experts Eye Benefits of Exercise
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... 27, 2016 , ... "FCPX editors can now reveal their media with growing ... said Christina Austin - CEO of Pixel Film Studios. , ProSlice Color brings ... users can now reveal the media of their split screens with growing colorful panels. ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... 2016 , ... TopConsumerReviews.com recently awarded their highest five-star rating to Best Buy ... in the United States and Canada wear eyeglasses. Once considered to be a purely ... make a fashion statement. Even celebrities use glasses as a way of creating an ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... ... June 26, 2016 , ... PawPaws brand pet supplements owned ... developed to enhance the health of felines. The formula is all-natural and is made ... in the PawPaws Cat Kidney Support Supplement Soft Chews are Astragalus Root ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... Austin residents seeking Mohs surgery services, can ... Surgery and to Dr. Russell Peckham for medical and surgical dermatology. , Dr. Dorsey ... cancer. The selective fellowship in Mohs Micrographic Surgery completed by Dr. Dorsey was under ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... 25, 2016 , ... As a lifelong Southern Californian, Dr. Omkar Marathe earned ... the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He trained in Internal Medicine at ... fellowship in hematology/oncology at the UCLA-Olive View-Cedars Sinai program where he had the opportunity ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)...   Bay Area Lyme Foundation , collaborating ... for Tick Borne Illness , Harvard Medical School ... Medicine, University of California, Berkeley, and the Veterans ... finalists of Lyme Innovation , the first ... scientists, clinicians, researchers, entrepreneurs, and investors from several ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... Dehaier Medical Systems Ltd. (NASDAQ: DHRM ) ... medical devices and wearable sleep respiratory products in ... with Hongyuan Supply Chain Management Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred ... to develop Dehaier,s new Internet medical technology business. ... Hongyuan Supply Chain,s sales platform to reach Dehaier,s dealers ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... , June 24, 2016   Pulmatrix, Inc ... company developing innovative inhaled drugs, announced today that it ... Russell Investments reconstituted its comprehensive set of U.S. ... "This is an important milestone for Pulmatrix," said ... increase shareholder awareness of our progress in developing drugs ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: