The NHS this week admitted they are considering a cash plan style option of financial incentives to encourage a healthier style of life for UK citizens. Some areas have undertaken their own schemes and they report that the results have given some encouragement.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, which advises the NHS in England and Wales, believes the measures may help to tackle obesity, smoking and drinking. They describe cash incentives to reward changes in lifestyle as an “Idea whose time has come” and are looking to gather additional evidence before submitting a formal recommendation.
Usually this type of plan is paid monthly via direct debit on a rolling contract.
There are lots of differences between a cash health plan and medical insurance. Medical insurance will help pay towards operations and other treatment received which a cash health plan will not. Some people choose cash health plans as they are offered as part of a corporate scheme.
In an interview with the BBC ahead of that event, Professor Mike Kelly, NICE’s head of public health, said: “We will want to see evidence that it provides value for money, there is a question over whether behaviour is sustained when incentives end. Humans respond to incentives, we know that. What we now need to see is whether the economic behaviour can be repeated in terms of health behaviour. It is an idea whose time has come.”
Any recommendations for incentives to backing a scheme by National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence covering England and Wales would still be around a year away.
In the meantime the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence are working closely with a team of London-based experts from King’s College, Queen Mary University and the London School of Economics, who are carrying out research into the issue.
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