The Health and Wealth Connection

Staying healthy could be your ticket to more financial securityNovember 2015

It may not always be obvious in daily life, but the evidence is clear: Our health and wealth are more closely related than we realize. One study even shows that engaging in regular exercise — at least three hours a week — can increase wages and earnings by as much as 10%.1

Paying a price for poor health

Life expectancy in the United States now stands at an all-time high. That’s 76.4 years for men and 81.2 years for women, according to the latest data from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.2

We are, however, spending more of those years in poor health. Recently published research confirms that people are living longer. But they are living with costly illnesses and disabilities that eat into their financial security.3

The price tag really adds up. Some examples:

  • Direct medical costs for treating diabetes and its complications during a lifetime range from $54,700 to $130,800.4 The range accounts for age at diagnosis and gender.
  • Average annual medical expenses for the treatment of heart disease range from $4,279 to $14,504, depending on age.5
  • The average annual cost of obesity is $4,879 for a woman and $2,646 for a man.6 The analysis cites the extra medical and nonmedical costs — such as sick days, lost productivity, lower wages, and even increased use of gasoline — obese adults incur compared with average weight adults.

And of course, people with unhealthy habits (those who smoke, for instance) can sometimes pay higher rates for life and health insurance.

Making healthy changes that last

Understanding how people make decisions is the key to helping them change their behavior. Researchers have shown that when you reward people for engaging in physical activity, they become more active. In fact, one global study found that incentives led to a 22% increase in the number of people going to the gym over a four-year period.7

This is consistent with a recent survey in which more than 2,000 people were asked if incentives would motivate them to change their behavior. Here’s what they had they to say:

  • 55% say they would be more likely to walk
  • 48% say they would be very likely to get a health screening
  • 46% say they would be very likely to exercise regularly

There is significant evidence that when you provide immediate rewards — such as gift cards, movie tickets and shopping discounts — for healthy behaviors, people are able to make real progress and lasting change.

One new initiative that takes this approach is the John Hancock Vitality solution. Through its exclusive U.S. partnership with Vitality, the global leader in integrating wellness benefits with life insurance products, John Hancock has created a new solution that combines traditional life insurance protection with a program that rewards people for living a healthy life.

Earning rewards for healthy behaviors

With the John Hancock Vitality solution, policyholders can earn points by completing simple everyday activities to stay healthy. These include things such as going to the gym, getting annual health screenings or staying tobacco free. Every new policyholder even receives a free Fitbit® as one way to track progress.

Points add up and can result in lower premium costs — as much as 15% lower* — as well as rewards and discounts from Hyatt, Royal Caribbean, Whole Foods, REI and others. The more wellness steps a policyholder takes, the greater their potential savings.

“We want to help policyholders connect their financial well-being to their long-term health,” says Michael Doughty, president, John Hancock Insurance. “Most Americans know they need more life insurance, and our research shows that nearly all consumers feel they could be living a healthier life. John Hancock Vitality can help them to achieve both of those goals.”

John Hancock continues to link more types of life insurance to the Vitality program. Learn more about this first-to-market program at www.jhrewardslife.com.

1 Kosteas V. The effect of exercise on earnings: evidence from the NLSY. Journal of Labor Research. June 2012.

2 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/life-expectancy.htm.

3 Murray C, Vos T, Lopez A. The global burden of disease study 2013. The Lancet. August 2015.

4 Zhuo X, Zhang P, Hoerger T. Lifetime direct medical costs of treating type 2 diabetes and diabetic complications. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. September 2013.

5 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. http://meps.ahrq.gov/mepsweb/data_stats/MEPS_topics.jsp?topicid=4Z8

6 Dor A, Ferguson C, Langwith C, et al. A heavy burden: the individual costs of being overweight and obese in the United States. The George Washington University School of Public Health. 2010.

7 AIA Vitality: The case for incentivizing health. Using behavioral economics to improve health and wellness [white paper]. February 2014.

8 Nationwide survey conducted online by KRC Research on behalf of John Hancock. Interviews were among 2,034 adults, ages 18–69, February 2015.

* Premium savings based on a comparison between a policy with Vitality at Platinum Status and a policy without Vitality (will vary by product type and other factors, including nonguaranteed elements).

Vitality is the provider of the John Hancock Vitality Program in connection with policies issued by John Hancock. Insurance policies and/or associated riders and features may not be available in all states.

Rewards and discounts are subject to change and are not guaranteed to remain the same for the life of the policy.

The John Hancock Vitality Program is available with select John Hancock policies. Please consult your financial representative as to product availability and how premium savings may affect the policy you purchase. John Hancock Vitality Program rewards and discounts are only available to the person insured under the eligible life insurance policy. Rewards may vary based on the type of insurance policy purchased for the insured (Vitality Program Member), the ownership and inforce status of the insurance policy, and the state where the insurance policy was issued.

Insurance products are issued by John Hancock Life Insurance Company (U.S.A.), Boston, MA 02117 (not licensed in New York) and John Hancock Life Insurance Company of New York, Valhalla, NY 10595. MLINY110915069

This content was provided by John Hancock. Kiplinger is not affiliated with and does not endorse the company or products mentioned above.

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