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Financial Incentives Drive Health and Wellness Initiatives


Two dollars a day could help keep the doctor away, according to some workers in the United States.

UnitedHealthcare’s “Wellness Checkup Survey” of 1,000 U.S. workers found that 68% said an incentive as little as $2 per day would motivate them to devote at least an hour each day toward improving their health. Additionally, 60% of respondents said they would be more likely to participate in a fitness routine if the program offered an opportunity to socialize or make friends.

Among employees with access to a well-being program, 67% said it was important that their significant other or family members were allowed to participate too.

More than half (53%) of survey respondents anticipate being able to accomplish everyday activities until 80 or older, including 11% who said those tasks will “never” be an issue. Gen Xers — defined as people between 39 and 54 years old — were the most optimistic, with nearly three-quarters (74%) expecting to maintain their health beyond 80, including 15% saying health issues will never prevent them from accomplishing everyday tasks. However, one study concluded that 42% of Americans 80 or older have functional limitations, such as the inability to walk a flight of stairs.

Other key findings from the survey included:

  • Survey respondents considered a healthy diet, such as eating fruits and vegetables, as the top priority when trying to improve their health, with a mean score of 4.5 (5 being “extremely important”). That was followed by access to routine medical care, such as an annual physical (4.4); stopping smoking and/or reducing drinking (4.4); getting sufficient sleep (4.3); engaging in strength or cardiovascular training (4.3); increasing social activity (3.7); and improving mindfulness (3.6).
  • About one-fifth (22%) of survey respondents correctly recognized that 80% or more of the incidence of premature chronic conditions, such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes, are generally caused by modifiable lifestyle choices, such as risk factors like smoking or obesity, as opposed to being caused by genetic factors. More than one-third (38%) thought between 50% and 79% of premature chronic conditions were caused by lifestyle choices, while 32% said genetics were to blame for more than half of these diseases.

More than half (57%) of people with access to wellness programs said the initiatives have made a positive impact on their health. Of these, 82% said they were motivated to pay more attention to their health; 63% said they increased physical activity; 59% improved their diet; and 30% reported improved sleep. More than one-quarter (27%) said the program helped detect a disease or medical condition, while 8% said they stopped smoking or using nicotine.

In terms of job performance among those who said the well-being program made a positive impact on their health, 50% said the initiative helped reduce stress; 49% reported improved productivity; and 35% said they took fewer sick days. About one-quarter (26%) reported no impact on job performance.

Among employees without access to wellness programs, 70% of respondents said they would be interested in such initiatives if offered, including 43% who are “very interested.” More than three-quarters (77%) of Gen Xers said they wanted access to a well-being program, more so than any other age group.

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