My health insurance company has sent me a letter telling me that they will give me a Visa gift card to go to a "personal health visit" at a pharmacy. They will:

review your health history and prescriptions, check my heart rate and blood pressure, and answer health-related questions

This information will then be shared with "[my] doctor", although I'm not sure who that is, because I don't have a specific "doctor" - this is not an HMO.

I'm not sure why the insurance company is doing this, and am wondering if there is a potential downside for me, aside from time cost. Could this have a negative effect (increased premiums, etc.) if my health is not good enough to match their bar?

  • Has it been a while since you've seen a doctor? I used to work for an employer who incentivized us to get a similar set of tests once a year. It's probably just an attempt to detect problems sooner than later, so they're cheaper to treat. – stannius Nov 10 '16 at 19:28
  • In general, insurance companies have an incentive to encourage preventive care because it saves them money. Having doctor telling you, "You need to exercise more or you will have a heart attack," is much cheaper for them than having a surgeon administer a bypass after you've had a heart attack. The question of whether an insurance company can see your heath records even when you don't submit a claim to them is possibly a legal question, and I don't know the answer. – apsillers Nov 10 '16 at 19:49
  • 2
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's about health care providers offering services to consumers. – gef05 Nov 10 '16 at 20:24

No, it's not a trap. Your healthcare provider wants you to get regular checkups as it has been proven to be cheaper for them in the long run. If you participate in annual wellness visits, you are more likely to have problems discovered sooner, which means they don't have to pay out as much as for a problem discovered further down the road.

My provider offers discounts for "wellness activities" which included a yearly physical, participating in a wellness website, and answering surveys. I didn't have to do any of it, but each item I did brought my premium down by a certain amount.

Your premiums won't increase because of visiting a doctor. When they say "your doctor", they just mean whichever doctor you visit. They are assuming you have a specific doctor, but that doesn't mean you have to.

One item I will caution on, and this is not related to the offer of a gift card from the provider: Be sure to check with your doctor if you will be billed for asking questions. Seems silly, but some doctors will add line items to your visit for asking certain questions. I have also heard of doctor's visits not being coded to the standard "wellness visit" (such as an annual physical) if you start going down certain routes with questions. You should ask questions, but just be an informed consumer and check on billing practices with your doctor as well.

| improve this answer | |
  • Thank you. This was confusing to me because I already go to a doctor for a physical anyways, whereas this is at a pharmacy. – so2 Nov 10 '16 at 22:49

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.