What if You Were Rewarded for Not Being Sick?

Imagine Healthcare plan title graphicWouldn’t it be amazing if your health insurance company rewarded you for not  getting sick?

What if you earned a bonus every month that you did not come into the doctor’s office or buy a prescription?

Would you feel more compelled to stay healthy?

I’m a firm believer that the best healthcare is preventative care — doing everything in my power to stay vibrantly healthy and not get sick.  And I’m proud to say I’m doing pretty well.  In fact I can’t even remember the last time I went to my doctor for something other than a check up.

This wasn’t always the case.

My young adult years were plagued with some illness or another.  Within weeks of starting college I came down with mononucleosis.  Long Vermont winters lead to pneumonia and frequent bouts of bronchitis.  Sniffles,  plugged ears and a general feeling of “blah” were commonplace.  I seemed to catch every bug that was floating around.

Everyone who’s moved away from home to attend college knows how challenging those first few years of complete independence can be.  This freedom we so desperately craved can quickly become overwhelming and lead to disastrous health.

The main culprit?  Sleep deprivation!  Oh and the endless plates of unhealthy foods we gobble in a hurry in between never ending activities.  Yep college habits are seldom healthy ones, and bad habits are not easy to get rid of.

Fast forward a few years after moving to sunny Southern California.  Things are pretty good. I have a job I love, working at an video editing company, my boyfriend, soon to be husband, has moved out to LA and we spend most of our weekends outdoors. We discover scuba diving, rock climbing… Fun, healthy activities that bond us together and keep illness at bay 🙂

Then I decide to step out on my own and launch a freelance career.  And before I know it I’m working around the clock on one show or another — 12, 16, 18 hour days.

I don’t know when they started but one day I realize I was suffering from the most debilitating migraines.  And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  But there is no such thing as down time in the ever so glamorous entertainment industry.  It is a world ruled by deadlines and those deadlines have to be met at whatever cost.

By the time I turned 30 and wanted to become a mom I wised up a little and decided to start my own company. A company governed by a different set of rules  —  Mine.  We took regular lunch breaks, away from our desks and enjoyed wonderful conversations around our dining room table. My babies had their nursery on site so I could take breast feeding and bonding breaks. And I had a firm out.  If my clients wanted me to stay past 6 pm they incurred strict overages.   Endless days were not productive days and my clients quickly learned to respect and appreciate that I work far more efficiently and was far more productive when those rules were adhered to.

Life was pretty good but those migraines never left me.  I battled them for 20 excruciating years, pushing past the pain by focusing on work or my beautiful girls… But I could only do that for so long before the pain overwhelmed me.  My health was degrading in other ways as well but the migraines are what I could not escape.

Except… when I was engaged in outdoor activities with my family.  During those times I was mostly fine.

Hint:  Physical exercise and sunshine are good for your health!

Cat scans, MRI’s, blood tests and all sorts of other labs were the norm.  How grateful I am that my husband works for a health company and we have an exceptionally good health plan!

Fast forward again, this time to today — I’m forty nine years old and the healthiest I have ever been!  I look forward to getting up in the morning and savoring every part of my day.  And  yes, for the most part I am now migraine free! As I venture into the lovely stage of life known as menopause, I now get a small migraine around the time of my menses but those migraines are nothing like the ones I use to suffer from.

I cannot tell you how amazing it was the first time I realized I was mostly migraine free!

I was having lunch with a dear friend who’d moved out of the country. He’d started as one of my clients and knew how much I suffered then. When he asked “how are your migraines going?”  I froze… I could not remember the last time I’d had one! It was the most exhilarating feeling in the world!

Yes! I’d finally conquered my migraines!!!

How?

Lifestyle changes.

Two major changes along with other smaller ones that were much easier once those big changes took place.

The first change — I gave up gluten.  I never would have guessed how one small change like that could have such an impact on my health but it was monumental!

The second change — I changed my sleeping habits.  For longer than I can remember I’d been a night owl.  As a Chinese and Political Science major in college I had no time for sleep. As a young editor I’d often be cutting away into the wee hours of the morning.   As a young mom, I’d finally get a little “me” time after the babies were in bed. The hours between 10 ad midnight were my favorites. They were mine!

Until I discovered the magic and infinite beauty of the early morning! The morning quiet is rich and invigorating! It fills me with a desire to live fully the day that lays ahead.

When I decided to insist on getting to bed by 10pm everything changed.

I made changes to my eating habits and had time and energy for exercise.  I became more productive and yes, my health, physical and emotional,  improved drastically!

I do not know a mom who does not deal with sleep deprivation but I assure you, if there is one things you must insist upon it is a good night’s sleep.  A restful night is the foundation of good health!   You cannot make healthy decisions if your mind is muddled and you are just “existing”, stumbling almost like a robot through your day.  This is a topic I feel so passionate about I’ll be writing a lot more about it in the next few weeks.

Health is about habits.   And when you are able to make those habits your own you reap the most glorious benefits.

Imagine this …

No “sick” doctor visits this month >> You earn a $50 bonus
* No Medications purchased >> Another $50 bonus
* Annual health exam >> $100 annual bonus
* Annual mammogram or thermography >> $100 annual bonus
* Weekly exercise logged >> $25 monthly bonus
* Weekly healthy meal plan logged >> $25 monthly bonus

Wouldn’t this be an huge incentive to stay healthy?

Healthy Habits collage

While we may not be there yet, I am encouraged to see healthcare companies like United Healthcare focus  more and more on preventative care.

screen capture from United Healthcare video

Preventative care includes services such as routine check ups and special screenings to detect possible illnesses before they progress too far.  They also include nutrition and fitness tips.  Ways to minimize stress and maximize health.

If you have ever participated in their monthly dares at wedareyoutoshare.com you  know that UHC has a library of articles and videos that offer all sorts of tips on staying healthy.

And of course you are invited to test your health knowledge for a chance to win on of three $400 Gift card when you play one of their dares. That’s a little bit like getting rewarded for staying healthy no?

So head on over to wedareyoutoshare.com and play along 🙂

United Healthcare February Dares

This post is sponsored by United Healthcare.  All opinions are my own.

What is one of the cornerstones of YOUR personal preventative health care plan?

 

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About Valerie 

Valerie Remy-Milora is the mother of 3 amazing girls, an author, public speaker, coach and founder of Scrumptious Moms. She is passionate about empowering moms to embrace self care and live a vibrant, joyful life with their loved ones. A health and fitness nut, she is an advocate for chemical-free living, real food and GMO labeling. She believes in the sanctity of life from conception to natural death.

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Comments

  1. I am also a firm believer in preventative care. I love your line that sunshine helps too! 🙂 Seems like a great program rewarding people to get healthy!

  2. This is an excellent idea. I think a lot of companies offer a plan like this and add money onto your FSA (or something smart like that). Because keeping yourself healthy is more than half the battle.

  3. I adore the idea of motivating yourself to stay on top of your health. This hasn’t been our healthiest year, but I could see this program being motivating.

    • I think so many people would respond well to healthy incentives Crystal. I’m sorry you’ve experience several health issues this year and pray it only gets better moving forward. We can’t control EVERYTHING but I am a firm believer that we can significantly improve our overall health through simple lifestyle choices. All the best to you and your family!

  4. These are great suggestions to keep healthy! I am not sick much but will keep these in mind for sure.

  5. Judy Thomas says:

    I love this idea! but I am worried that some people wont admit that they are sick when they really need to go see a doctor.

    • That is a really good point Judy and something to think about. I think much would depend on how such a system would be implemented. It would have to be clear that no-one would be penalized for needing service. We can control a lot but not all.

  6. Love the idea. I’m also a firm believer that the best healthcare is preventative care

  7. Alicia Hewitt says:

    This is actually a great idea!! People should get rewarded when they take good care of themselves.

  8. Nancy Burgess says:

    I agree and I think we all would take better care of ourself.

    • Amen Nancy! At the end of the day, the best incentive should be how much more we get to enjoy each precious day when we don’t have to struggle with our health. Everything feels and tastes so much better!

  9. I work hard to keep my family health and as a result we rarely go to a doctor outside of an annual physical! I love the idea of being rewarded for being well

  10. KATE SARSFIELD says:

    A healthy lifestyle is so easy to achieve but regarding being paid for being well? What about us who spend fortunes in order to control debilitating (and possibly fatal) chronic illnesses? And men? It’s hard enough to get them to a doctor when they are really ill without added incentive to stay away!

    • I don’t think this would be an incentive to stay away Kate but I hear you about men… my husband is one of those. He avoids the doctor at all cost. Ironically his father and his brother are both physicians.. Perhaps that is why he doesn’t go in unless he has a real serious concern. He grew up with the mindset that you don’t see the doctor unless you are on your death bed. I see this as a cultural problem more than a healthcare problem. As for having to spend a fortune on life threatening or chronic diseases I believe those burdens could be greatly diminished if less money was spent when it isn’t really needed. By that I mean, that if people were rewarded for staying healthy, they would come in less and more resources would be available for those who really need them, which in turn, I believe, but this is only stipulation, would make those services more affordable.

  11. Kimberly Lynn says:

    If this was real, people would probably take better care of themselves..I Like this idea!

    • I think so too Kimberly. We all clearly respond well to positive reinforcement. I think it would be a great way to incentivize everyone to make healthy life choices and it would ensure that patients who are in real need of medical care have easier and perhaps even cheaper access to the treatments they need.

  12. clojo9372 says:

    I do believe in preventative care. That’s why I think It’s so important that we as a society are eating healthy food. I believe since so many people are eating a lot of processed junk, it is why so many people are getting sick. Especially those who suffer financially. Let’s face it.. a lot of the time bad food is cheaper whereas healthier food is more expensive. So people who are struggling financially are a victim to this, and have no choice but to make bad eating habits, and therefore more prone to getting sick. Maybe not just health insurance companies but other organizations can help promote eating healthy and natural foods, and somehow find ways to keep costs lower so there is less incentive to buy the bad stuff. I hope you get what I’m trying to say. This came off a bit more like a ramble than I had intended. lol.

    • I totally agree with you Clojo… I do believe there is a direct link between finances and health, not to say that people who are financially stable don’t get sick. Sadly, fast food companies and other big producers of GMO foods, and other foods that are filled with toxins but very little nutrition pry on people who don’t think they can afford healthier foods. If you look at billboards that advertise fast food, alcohol or other products that are linked to poor health, you’ll see that there are far more of these in poorer neighborhoods. The same can be said about the actual number of fast food restaurants and liquor stores. You’ll find way more of them in these neighborhoods than in more affluents. But there is hope. There are a few companies committed to making healthy food available at close to the same price as fast food and they are opening up stores in poorer neighborhoods, where they are most needed. Yes, together we can make a huge difference. Being aware of what is going on is the first step. Not supporting companies that perpetuate this vicious cycle is another. Most of all, we must, as a society, insist on making healthy choices available for all and doing our part in educating those around us.

  13. Love this! I am a night owl also! But lately I’ve been taking melatonin to change my bad sleep habits and go to bed early.

    • I love reading this Lena! Sleep is such a foundational component of good health yet so many of us struggle with getting a good night sleep. I wish all the best and pray you can successfully change your sleep habits!

  14. Makes sense to do it this way. I think people might be more inclined to take better care of themselves.

  15. Terry Poage says:

    I wold give about anything if they could fix half of what is wrong with me. I really wish they could make the peripheral neuropathy go away.

    • I’m so sorry that you suffer so much Terry! The peripheral neuropathy sounds particularly frustrating, especially if you aren’t getting any relief. I understand not all symptoms can be eliminated but some of them may be at least partly alleviated through life habits such as exercise and diet. Are you working with a dietician along with your physician to find options that provide you some relief? I will keep that in prayer. I can only imagine your pain. God bless!

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