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CIGNA And Kaiser Personalize Wellness Programs

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Carriers are trying to get serious about efforts to help patients improve their own health.[@@]

CIGNA Behavioral Health, Eden Prairie, Minn., is working with Leade Health Inc., Ann Arbor, Mich., to introduce 3 personalized wellness programs to help program members cope with stress, weight problems and tobacco addiction.

CIGNA Behavioral is an arm of CIGNA Corp., Philadelphia, a national managed care company, but it is offering the “lifestyle management programs” through employee assistance programs. Participating in the programs will be free for plan members, CIGNA says.

The programs will combine the services of a “personal coach,” customized educational materials, and discounts for programs such as the Weight Watchers weight loss program, CIGNA Behavioral says.

Another big carrier, Kaiser Permanente, Oakland, Calif., will be offering the 10,000 Steps walking program to 8.2 million Kaiser members in 9 states and the District of Columbia.

Kaiser is licensing the program from HealthPartners, Bloomington, Minn., a nonprofit health coverage coalition.

Participants in the 10,000 Steps program use a pedometer to count the number of steps they take each day, and they use a Web-based system to track their progress. Participants who track their steps have a chance to win prizes for at least 8 weeks.

HealthPartners set up the 10,000 Steps program in 1999 and since then has persuaded 50,000 Americans to join the program.

In related news, HealthPartners says it will be selling 10,000 Steps health education materials to Fleishman-Hilliard Inc., St. Louis. Fleishman-Hilliard, a marketing and advertising agency, will be using the materials to help the federal government increase the physical activity level of federal employees, HealthPartners says.

Meanwhile, Oxford Health Plans Inc., Trumbull, Conn., a unit of UnitedHealth Group Inc., Minnetonka, Minn., is advertising its plans in the New York region by pointing out that members get discounts on goods and services that can help them improve their own health.