Walmart Rolls Out Eat-Healthy Insurance Discount
In the first such program between a major retailer and an insurance company, Walmart is partnering with Humana to offer discounts for choosing healthier and more-nutritious foods.
After accepting HumanaVitality’s terms and taking a health assessment, members will receive their ‘Vitality HealthyFood’ card offering a five percent discount on products featuring the ‘Great for You’ icon at Walmart. Foods under the program include fresh fruits, vegetables, chicken and low-fat dairy and low sodium soups. The program for HumanaVitality’s more than 1 million members begins Oct. 15.
In a statement, Walmart noted that recent research found one in four families report skipping healthy purchases often or always, due to price.
"Price is an important factor in incentivizing wellness in America," said John Agwunobi, M.D., president of health and wellness, Walmart U.S. "By offering affordable, healthier foods, we will help make our customers healthier and reduce costs to our healthcare system as a whole. This represents preventative care in its purest form."
Launched in July 2011, HumanaVitality is a "wellness rewards program." Humana insurance members in the program earn ‘Vitality Points’ for activities such as in-range biometrics results, preventive screenings, health education courses, verified fitness activities and weight loss. The points can be redeemed for a wide range of items including movie tickets, music downloads, electronics and hotel stays.
The Washington Post said wellness programs have become a mainstay of large employers’ insurance plans in recent years, although it’s not known if any offer financial incentives to purchase healthier groceries.
In a recent survey of HumanaVitality members, 84 percent indicated that a savings program would motivate them to purchase healthier foods. The Vitality HealthyFood program will be aggressively communicated to more than 600,000 hospitals and physicians, as well as 60,000 insurance brokers.
The program builds on Walmart’s initiative last year with First Lady Michelle Obama to reformulate its packaged food to lower sugar, salt and fat, and lower prices on fruits and vegetables. In February 2012, it introduced its ‘Great For You’ icon.
The "hope is that others are inspired by this work, candidly – other retailers; other healthcare companies," Mr. Agwunobi said of the Vitality HealthyFood program Wednesday on a conference call, according to Drug Store News. "My hope is it becomes a new way of doing business, a new way of helping the customer."
Joe Woods, CEO of HumanaVitality, said HumanaVitality’s large member base provides "lot of opportunities to collect data and to understand how this is moving the needle or changing behaviors of individual shopping experiences."
- Walmart and HumanaVitality Partner for First-of-its-Kind Healthier Food Program Designed to Incentivize Wellness in America – Walmart
- Wal-Mart program offers discounts for healthy food – Associated Press/BusinessWeek
- Walmart forges new pathway to wellness, challenges others to follow – Drug Store News
- Humana wants to change what you buy at the grocery store – Washington Post
- Walmart Launches Major Initiative to Make Food Healthier and Healthier Food More Affordable – Walmart
- Walmart Unveils "Great For You" Icon – Walmart
Should insurance companies help incentivize healthy eating? Is there a downside for Walmart and retailers in general? What else could be added to such programs to increase their effectiveness?