Michigan Senate Votes to Tie Health Insurance to Behavior

May 11, 2006

Health insurers and HMOs in Michigan could offer financial incentives to smaller employers that want to reward workers for healthy behavior under legislation passed unanimously May 9 in the state Senate.

Supporters of the bills said state law bars health insurance companies from offering rebates to businesses for good behavior by their employees. Larger companies that self-insure are able to offer incentives for exercising and not smoking.

Republican Sen. Tom George of Portage, who’s sponsoring the legislation, said it “holds the promise of making (people) healthier.”

Under the bills, rebates given to employers couldn’t surpass 10 percent. The legislation also allow insurers to offer rebates to individuals buying their own health insurance.

Michigan law already lets life, auto and homeowner insurers give rate reductions for taking certain actions.

Supporters said wellness programs help workers manage their own health and adopt healthier habits. George also said getting an annual health assessment can drop health care costs by $200 a year.

The healthy behavior bills are Senate Bills 848-49.

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