Health insurance plan rewards healthy moms, babies

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX -- Here is a new twist on health insurance: a plan that basically pays you to stay healthy. It is an idea that is giving new moms an incentive to take control of their care.

Getting new moms and babies, like Heather Callahan and daughter Athena, off to a healthy, happy start is about more than just paying bills under a new program with United Healthcare.

"Yeah, it is like a family, so we care very deeply about insuring good health outcomes," said Dr. Steve Chakmakian, the chief medical officer for community health plans at UHC.

He says insuring good outcomes begins with the Baby Blocks program.

“Where they can have this online service that helps walk them through the various steps of their pregnancy and then the first 15 months of life after the baby is born," Chakmakian said.

The program is open to moms who are Medicaid eligible and enrolled in a community health plan.

It is a free, interactive online tool. Moms who sign up are given information on recommended tests and services, both before and after the baby is born.

“To meet key important services like getting immunizations, or getting lab work that is necessary, or seeing their doctor for an ultrasound," Chakmakian explained.

Regular appointment reminders are also set up. Chakmakian says it's not just good for moms but also for business.

“Prevention, prevention, prevention," he said. "So, if we can help encourage moms when they are pregnant and then after the babies are born to go to those preventative wellness visits, we can avoid complications that we don't want to see.”

But, the plan goes one step further, delivering some incentives for meeting certain milestones.

“So, the incentives are all tied around the normal things that a pregnant mom and/or the baby in the first 15 months of life would benefit from using," Chakmakian said.

In an interview provided by United Healthcare, Callahan said she was thrilled with the gifts.

“I have received some Old Navy gift cards, some toys for Athena and some books," the new mom said.

Moms can also choose diaper bags, feeding sets, dental health kits, or even a spa kit at the end of the program.

Chakmakian says working together will be healthier for all of us.

“And so this is a great, I think, collaboration between innovation at United Healthcare and speaking with members and learning what they want, and trying to look at what we need to do here as a health plan to improve prevention, improve wellness," he said.

Again, the program is open to Medicaid eligible moms in a UHC community health plan, but there are other programs in different plans that also help new moms, so be sure to ask what is available under your plan.