Healthcare Technology Featured Article

December 12, 2014

Oscar Healthcare Offers Incentives for Customers to Walk More

Oscar Health Insurance, a new startup that sells individual health plans on Obamacare exchanges is trying to get ahead of the competition by offering incentives to members who take steps to improve their health. The company, currently operating in New Jersey and New York City, is offering free Misfit wearable fitness trackers and up to $20 per month in Amazon gift cards for those who meet certain walking goals.

"Everybody walks in NYC. Oscar members get paid for it," Oscar wrote in a Twitter announcement regarding the program.

This effort distinguishes Oscar as one of the few companies in the individual insurance market to actively promote healthy living with incentives, whereas it is quite common for employer-sponsored health plans to have "workplace wellness" programs.

The Misfit Flash device, which normally sells for around $50, will be given out for free to members who sign up in 2015 and can be worn as a watch or clipped to clothing. Members receive $1 for each day they walk 2,000 steps or more, which is about 1 mile, before the requirement gradually increases to a minimum of 10,000 steps (five miles) for the reward. However, there is limit of $20 per month. Assuming members achieve the goal at least 20 times per month there is a max total of $240 worth in gift cards over the course of a year.

The Misfit sends information about members' walking habits to an Oscar software application, which tracks progress and sets the goals for each day. The program is also compatible with Apple's HealthKit application.

Co-CEO Mario Schlosser noted that this goal was based on research that demonstrated a noticeable impact on health once a person begins to walk 6,000 steps per day. "Some members should see improved health early on, while other effects would take longer to materialize," he said.

Oscar Health Insurance came into being with the rollout of Obama's Affordable Care Act in 2013, and is now backed by about $150 million in venture capital. The company has about 17,000 members and was valued at around $800 million during the most recent investment round.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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