Michigan's Granholm Inks Group Health Coverage Incentive Bills

October 3, 2006 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Michigan employers who want to give rewards to workers for their healthy behavior like stopping smoking and losing weight can now do so with the signing of two bills into law.

Governor Jennifer Granholm signed into law one bill that allows insurers and health maintenance organizations to offer  wellness coverage that provides rebates, lower premiums or reduced copayments of up to 10% ( SB 848 ), according to news reports. It takes effect January 1, 2007, along with a companion bill ( SB 849 ) authorizing the same changes within Michigan’s Nonprofit Health Care Corporation Reform Act.

According to the reports,Michigan law has barred insurers from offering rebates to businesses for good behavior by their employees. Larger companies, that have always been able to self-insure, can already provide such incentives.

Republican state Senator Tom George, who sponsored the legislation, has asserted that moreMichigan residents smoke and are less active than people in other states and that behavior leads to higher medical bills and insurance costs. He says the legislation will help create incentives to be healthier. Michigan law already lets life, auto, and home insurers give rate reductions for such actions as using an anti-theft device.

During consideration of the bills,Michigan’s surgeon general told lawmakers that health care costs associated with unhealthy lifestyle choices cost the state about $8.9 billion a year, with obesity-related expenditures alone totaling around $2.9 billion.