- Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan members will soon have access to a new suite of digital health tools, courtesy of a fresh partnership with WebMD. Blue Cross and Blue Care Network members will also have access to a portion of the new program, according to a joint press release.
- WebMD's Health Services program provides members with information about their benefits, health assessments, a digital assistant and health-related content. It also uses BioIQ to provide biometric screenings. Pennsylvania's Independence Blue Cross created a similar partnership with WebMD for its members back in 2012. These kinds of wellness programs have a positive impact on employee productivity and absenteeism rates, according to surveys from USA TODAY and the National Business Group on Health.
- "Employers know the value of wellness programs, and how the right program can help their employees get healthier and ultimately, help better manage overall health care costs," Ann Baker, vice president of Wellness and Care Management at Blue Cross, said in the release.
Increasingly, employers and insurers are using wearables to track and reward smart health behavior. For example, startup insurance company Oscar made a splash last December with its use of the Flash wearable device. It offered premium rebates to members who used the Misfit Flash wearable monitor. Those members whose Flash devices reported them living a healthy lifestyle could earn a discount of as much as a $240 off of their annual premiums as a reward for their good habits.
Expect to see the use of wellness tracking by employers and insurers expand. These programs cost relatively little and have the potential, when administered properly, to generate savings that far surpass the overhead involved.