Healthy habits even more critical during COVID-19

By Cary Conway
Dad and son doing pushups to form healthy habits - Vitality

There’s nothing like a global pandemic to motivate people to make healthy lifestyle choices. New data from Vitality reinforces that the benefits of health have a profound impact when it comes to being at risk for COVID-19. The study found that members who engage with Vitality – including Manulife Vitality customers – have an 11% lower risk of hospitalization compared to non-Vitality members.

The pandemic has magnified the importance of addressing lifestyle-related risks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that hospitalizations were six times higher and deaths 12 times higher for COVID-19 patients with the following underlying health conditions: cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic lung disease.

In the absence of a vaccine, the emerging picture from COVID-19 cases shows that even among those with chronic conditions, engaging in a healthy lifestyle yields benefits.

Traditional insurance models fail to consider the behavioral nature of risk – focusing on risk as a function of pre-existing conditions rather than controllable human behavior. By contrast, the Vitality Shared-value Insurance model relies on incentivizing healthy behaviors. The approach of making people healthier, while simultaneously lowering the price of insurance is the solution to making a profound contribution: by building resilience against chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes, and through the COVID-19 pandemic, on spreadable diseases too. The epidemic has created deeper application for and elevated importance of the Vitality Shared-value Insurance model: bringing to light new insights and opportunities, creating and compounding value that benefits all stakeholders.

Outside of the common practices being implemented throughout the world of physical distancing, regularly washing hands, and wearing a face mask, this new research suggests the importance of positive health engagement as the fourth behavior on which to focus.

As the world rides the health-economic rollercoaster of balancing the cost of lives versus livelihoods, employers, health and wellness providers, and insurers must work together to ensure the health of their members and workforce. These efforts to encourage healthy lifestyles can go a long way toward building even more resilient communities during the current health crisis and post-pandemic.

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