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Can Incentives For Healthy Behavior Improve Health And Hold Down Medicaid Costs?

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Publication Date: June 2007

Publisher(s): Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (Washington, D.C.)

Author(s): Pat Redmond; Judith Solomon; Mark Lin

Special Collection: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Topic: Health (Health promotion)

Keywords: Economic projections; State budgets; Preventative medicine; Food consumption

Type: Report


Because behavior, such as smoking, diet and physical inactivity, accounts for a significant amount of premature mortality, the idea that financial incentives could improve behavior is appealing.  States providing or considering incentives for behavior generally aim to either increase the number of beneficiaries who obtain regular health screenings or to decrease the incidence of smoking and obesity.  These are unquestionably valid goals for state Medicaid programs.  There is, however, little hard evidence that incentive programs will actually achieve these goals, particularly in terms of reducing smoking and obesity.