Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Merry Christmas

We wish you a very Merry Christmas
and a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year

Monday, 21 December 2009

Pru cuts gym discounts

Interesting news last week in the Observer that PruHealth is cutting discounts on gym memberships. From policy renewal, the maximum gym membership discount available will be 25%. I’m surprised this hasn’t happened earlier, or that better processes haven’t been put in place to check on members’ commitment to their fitness.

Several club managers that I’ve visited have told me of members who seem to visit gyms just to swipe-in and maintain their level of vitality points (or similar at other providers). Some occasionally work-out, but there are a lot of people cheating by giving false data. A director at PruHealth who I spoke to last year said they were most interested in building critical mass, and not so worried about people exploiting the system. Now it seems that both the clubs and PruHealth will be losing members.

I think that the practice of discounting either gym membership or medical insurance in a partnership is a great one, but it clearly needs more monitoring than the current “visits per week”. Full health screening is expensive and does not necessarily link to effort. However, if the gym measured members’ performance with an exercise management system, it could report calories burned, weight lifted, or any other exercise parameters, rather than simply visits. This data would be appealing to the right kind of members/policyholders, and invaluable to the insurance company.

Sure, there would be a big brother aspect about this information, and I expect that the health informatics guys would have something to say about it, but I believe that it would work better than the models tried so far. It would also need much closer partnerships between the insurance providers and health clubs, but that would be another good thing, and might even lead to more healthchecks being carried out at the gym.