Wellness Incentives: Can They Work? Are They Worth It?
David R. Anderson, PhD, LP
Chief Health Officer, StayWell
AAFP 1.0 | ACSM 1.0 | CDR 1.0 | NCHEC 1.0
David Anderson, PhD LP, is Chief Health Officer and cofounder of StayWell, a leading provider of fully customized health engagement solutions for population health management, consumer engagement and training, and patient education solutions — all designed to help people live well. David is the primary architect of StayWell’s population health strategies and continues to oversee the scientific and behavioral refinement of the Company’s health management programs. He has consulted on client programs honored with nearly 50 WELCOA Gold and C. Everett Koop National Health Awards. David has also conducted groundbreaking research on the effectiveness and value of health management programs and has co-authored several landmark publications.
Prior to joining StayWell in 1985, David held several human resources and benefits positions at Control Data Corporation. During his ten-year tenure there, he played a key role in creating one of the first successful corporate health management programs. David began his career as Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point.
David is a founding member of the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO), as well as serving on the HERO Board and chairing the HERO Research Committee. He serves on the Board and Executive Committee of The Health Project, which administers the C. Everett Koop award, and is on the Editorial Board of the American Journal of Health Promotion. David has served on expert panels for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, CDC/P, NIOSH, NCQA, and AHRQ.
A licensed psychologist, David has published many professional papers and spoken widely on health management issues. David earned his PhD in Psychology from the University of South Dakota, and completed a post-graduate business administration program at the New York University Graduate School of Business.
Many employers have integrated wellness incentives into their health plans since 2010, when the Affordable Care Act provided a legal framework for their use. However, these incentives schemes have proven controversial, especially those tied to health outcomes. Many also question whether these incentives work. This session discusses the role of incentives within a broad view of human motivation based on nearly a century of behavioral science. This perspective illustrates why incentives frequently increase participation but reduce success, why “carrots” may be viewed as “sticks,” and why incentives may decrease the intrinsic motivation essential to long- term change. While the preponderance of evidence indicates that comprehensive, culture-focused strategies are the best approach to improve population health, incentives may play a supportive role within this context. In addition to resolving ethical and legal issues, the key practical questions are which incentives work and which are worth it. What we’ve learned so far suggests the answers may be surprising.