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Supermarkets Key to Incentivizing Health

Supermarkets Key to Incentivizing Health

Between free advice from dietitians and nutrition rating systems simple enough for a child to comprehend, it’s never been easier to make healthy choices at the supermarket.

Now, partnerships with health insurance providers are adding a new  dimension. Take, for instance, NutriSavings, which offers incentives in the form of insurance premium discounts and cash-back to participants who buy healthy foods at Hannaford [3], Stop & Shop [4], Roche Bros. [5], Wegmans [6] and Big Y [7], which track purchases through their loyalty programs.

Harvard Pilgrim Health Care currently offers NutriSavings to its 1,200 employees and plans to extend it to its 1.5 million policyholders. Members are guided with educational videos, product ratings and recipes.

CPG companies, like Kellogg, are likewise influencing purchases through strategies involving health insurers. Kellogg recently teamed with the direct mail company Linkwell Health to distribute coupons through its partner health plans. The idea is that coupons coupled with health advice from a trusted authority — in this case the shopper’s health insurer — will result in greater redemption rates.


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These programs are unique given their consumer target, but rewarding healthy behavior is not new. Guided by the insight that 70% of health care costs are the result of behavior, self-insured Safeway [9] pioneered the concept years ago.

More recently, Hy-Vee [10] — also self-insured — began requiring that employees undergo biometric screenings to gauge cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure and triglyceride levels. Hy-Vee’s dietitians perform the tests in-store, explain the results and offer advice on how to improve them.

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Employees  who complete the screening and two healthy lifestyle tasks, obtain a substantial discount on their insurance premium.

The chain offers biometric screenings to the public too — for $45 — and since it’s cheaper than getting screenings done at the doctor’s office, Hy-Vee gets referrals from area physicians. Partnering with an outside health plan on an incentives-based program for store shoppers could be another traffic driver.

Given the ubiquity of loyalty programs that track purchases and retail dietitians offering personalized dietary advice, supermarkets are in a unique position to capitalize on the higher basket rings that accompany health incentives programs.

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