A managed care company is starting to offer financial incentives for group health plan members who adopt healthy lifestyles.

UnitedHealth Group Inc., Minnetonka, Minn., will require group plan members who participate in its new Vital Measures program to fill out a Web-based health assessment questionnaire and to go through a health screening test process administered by a UnitedHealth vendor.

UnitedHealth will provide credits toward the plan deductible for Vital Measures program members who refrain from smoking, keep their blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control, and meet body mass index benchmarks, the company says.

A typical Vital Measures program might start with a $2,500 deductible and give employees the ability to earn up to $2,000 in deductible credits, UnitedHealth says.

Covered spouses and dependents are not required to participate in the health screening, but spouses do need to complete a health assessment questionnaire, UnitedHealth says.

UnitedHealth is starting by offering the program in Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island to employers with 100 to 1,000 fully insured employees.

UnitedHealth hopes to offer the program throughout the United States in 2008, the company says.