Thursday, September 28, 2023

Getting healthy or staying healthy: You might be missing out on these health insurance benefits

(WYDaily file photo/Courtesy of Pexels)
(WYDaily file photo/Courtesy of Pexels)

If you’re still holding on to that fitness resolution at this point in January then there’s a good chance you’re in it for the long haul — but you could be missing something that would make it a little easier.

A lot of people may not know it but most medical insurance providers offer services for their clients to hone in on their fitness goals, including exercise classes, nutrition counseling, and gym discounts, said Terrina Thomas, director of health and preventive services for Optima Health and Sentara Healthcare.

Offering a range of preventative services aligns with Sentara’s goal to “meet people where they’re at” by ensuring there’s something for everyone but Thomas said the benefits aren’t unique to the regional health system as most health insurance companies have the same design.

The bottom line strategy: healthy and fit clients also make fewer claims and expenses for insurance companies.

“It helps save costs for everyone,” she said. “If you take care of yourself with preventative measures that your insurance company covers…that’ll help catch things early so you’re not having to spend as much and the insurance company can support, and also not spend that money too, and it’s just helpful for everyone in the long run.”

The benefits also work in favor of employers who pay their claims for their employees, Thomas said.

Tobacco cessation, movement tracking, and diabetes prevention are just a few examples of the programs offered as a means to help people stay ahead of cardiovascular and cancer risks.

And rather than just pushing going to the gym and eating broccoli, Thomas said the company also uses education “so they’re [clients] more empowered to make a better decision around those kinds of services” for themselves and their families in the long run.

Optima Health members have the privilege of discounts at partner gyms but Thomas added anyone who’s curious about exercise programs ranging from Tai Chi to chair yoga (for those with mobility restrictions) can gain access to free introductory courses through the company’s mobile app or website. 

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