At UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Kansas, our team takes a proactive approach to ensuring members have access to healthy activities in their community. The Healthy Activity benefit program offers $50 per year for members to use to access healthy activities of their choice. The program was initially developed to help kids build healthy habits, and later expanded to serve all members – kids and adults.
Many members used this benefit to access local non-profit gyms geared toward kids, but others were seeking alternatives or lived in rural areas with few local options. In response, the team thought about creative ways to get even more members active and engaged with their communities.
Our member services and Case Management teams work with members to understand what healthy habits and activities excite them. We help our members identify a participating organization in their area and continually work to expand the program to new organizations and activities that members are looking for. UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Kansas has built relationships with community organizations across the state to improve access and eliminate barriers to enrollment.
This benefit can cover a range of unique activities – such as soccer leagues, basketball camps, local scouting groups, pools and sports teams, even fishing licenses. Other members opt for an at-home fitness kit. We work to match each member who participates in the program with an activity that fits their needs so our members feel encouraged to staying active. Over 500 members have used the benefit to connect with a healthy activity in their area. The goal of the program is to build healthy habits and reduce the risk of social isolation and loneliness by encouraging members to make new connections within their community.
Less than one-quarter of children in the United States meet the recommended guidelines for daily physical activity.1 Regular physical activity positively impacts children’s physical and mental health, including improving fitness levels and reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression. Adults also receive important health benefits from physical activity including decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and premature death.2 Low levels of physical activity are also associated with $117 billion in healthcare expenditures.3
However, people from racial and ethnic minority groups and people with lower reported incomes are more likely to have lower rates of physical activity.4 Children from families with lower reported incomes face barriers to participating in activities and are more likely cite financial reasons for quitting sports.5,6 Personalized support helps our members overcome these barriers to access healthy activities and the associated benefits.
One example of how this program helps members is the story of Ana and her son, Tomás*. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Tomás’ in-person activities were limited, and Ana noticed that his physical and mental wellbeing was affected. She sought healthy activities for her son but faced language barriers and other challenges trying to navigate a fragmented network of programs and financial assistance applications. The Community Outreach team helped Ana identify and get connected with a local youth sports program to enroll Tomás using his Healthy Activity benefit. Since joining the soccer team, Tomás is more active, has made new friends and gained a greater sense of self-esteem and resilience.
UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Kansas' Healthy Activity Value Added Benefit promotes healthy habits and active lifestyles for members of all ages. Through the benefit, members can access a range of activities and organizations in their local area. The team also helps to eliminate challenges like language barriers and technology access, making it easier for our members to take advantage of the program and live healthier lives.
*Members’ names were changed to protect their privacy.
- https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/physicalactivity/facts.htm Opens in a new window
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4604440/ Opens in a new window
- https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/activepeoplehealthynation/why-should-people-be-active.html Opens in a new window
- https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/2684233 Opens in a new window
- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34209544/ Opens in a new window
- https://www.aspenprojectplay.org/news/low-income-kids-are-6-times-more-likely-to-quit-sports-due-to-costs Opens in a new window