5 ways your health benefits may support your New Year’s resolutions
As the ball dropped on New Year’s Eve, many people had a fresh start on their minds — often centered around improving their health and wealth.
In fact, a new UnitedHealthcare survey found that 55% of Americans are making a health-related resolution for 2024, with losing weight, exercising more and improving mental health ranking as the most common pledges.1 Nearly half (45%) of those goal setters said feeling better was the primary motivation, followed by living longer (32%) and looking better (17%).
If you’re looking to make health a priority this year, you may find resources in your new health plan helpful in working toward your New Year’s resolutions.
Dr. Donna O’Shea, chief medical officer of population health at UnitedHealthcare, offers five ways you may be able to use your 2024 benefits to achieve better health:
Here are five tips:
1. Tap into preventive care
Most health plans offer access to many preventive services without any out-of-pocket costs, including coverage for colonoscopies, mammograms and type 2 diabetes screenings. Likewise, some vaccinations for children and adults may be covered with no cost-sharing, including shots for the flu, measles and shingles. To get started, check with your primary care physician to schedule an annual physical exam and to determine what screenings and vaccinations may be recommended for you.
2. Earn incentives for using a wearable device
Wearable devices are becoming increasingly sophisticated, enabling the tracking of everything from daily steps to heart rates and sleep patterns. Some health plans incorporate wearable devices into consumer engagement programs that enable you to earn incentives for healthy behaviors – in some cases activities you may already be doing.
For example, millions of UnitedHealthcare members can earn incentives for completing daily health goals through a program called UHC Rewards. Eligible members may earn up to $300 per year – or as much as $1,000 per year if employers buy-up to that option – that can be added to a prepaid debit card or deposited into an health savings account (HSA) for things like achieving 5,000 steps or more each day, tracking sleep for 14 nights, getting a flu shot and completing a virtual visit or annual physical exam.2
3. Enroll in a weight-loss program
If shedding extra pounds is your focus, check for online weight-loss programs that may be available as part of your health plan. These programs are designed to help you build healthy habits across key areas, such as nutrition, fitness, sleep and stress — which may all support your weight loss targets.
It’s important to note that maintaining a healthy body weight may help improve your overall health. Research has shown that when an overweight person loses just 5% of their initial weight, it can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by more than 50%.
4. Kick the tobacco habit
While rates have declined, 28 million Americans are still consistent smokers, with cigarette use ranking as the leading cause of preventable death nationwide. At the same time, research has shown increasing use of e-cigarettes, which may present similar health risks as traditional tobacco.
Quitting can help support your short- and long-term health and save you money on a habit that costs billions each year. Many health plans include no-cost smoking cessation programs, which may include online tools, one-on-one coaching, plus nicotine gum or patches.
5. Support your smile
Research shows oral health issues can have a major impact on your overall health, making it vital that you care for your teeth. Beyond consistent brushing and flossing, regular dental cleanings are also important for removing plaque that tends to build up on teeth over time.
Many dental plans include up to two annual cleanings with no cost sharing. Some plans also offer discounts on electric toothbrushes, which may clean teeth and gums better than a manual toothbrush.
People who make clear resolutions may be more likely to reach their goals than those who don’t set specific pledges. By taking advantage of your health plan’s resources, it may be possible to improve both your physical and financial health in 2024.