Coupons From My Health Insurance Company?

Vons grocery cartHas this ever happened to you? I got a large envelope from my health insurance company in the mail today. It wasn’t a bill, and it wasn’t a “letter of doom”. Enclosed were several coupons that I can take to the grocery store. That was unexpected!

I, like many others, have a love-hate relationship with my health insurance company. I love that I didn’t have to come up with the entire cost of my Epi-Pen this year out of pocket – I hate that my insurer didn’t help out with much of the cost. I love that being insured means that if I get hit by a bus, and require a hospital stay, my health plan will cover the cost of (at least) some of the health care I need. I hate that my plan is “discontinued” and that they are raising the cost of my premiums in April of this year.

Each and every time I get mail from my health insurance company, I cringe. What bad news does this one hold? Does this envelope contain a bill, and, if so, can I afford to pay it? My best guess is that I am not the only one who feels this way.

Today, however, something unexpected happened. An oddly sized envelope arrived from my health insurer. It wasn’t the right shape for it to be a billing statement. It wasn’t the larger envelopes that generally contain information about upcoming changes to my health plan. What could this be?

There was a letter that started with the positive statement: “Save money and get healthy – at the store and at (the insurers website)”. The letter pointed out that I am welcome to visit the Health and Wellness portion of the insurers website to find discounts on eye glasses, savings on supplements, and tips for staying healthy.

There was more inside the envelope. Several grocery coupons were tucked inside it. There was one for cottage cheese, which an accompanying news letter says I should swap for sour cream. One coupon was for fresh fruits at Vons, if I also purchased certain brands of cereal. There is a coupon for sugar free cookies from a brand I’ve never heard of before.

Why would a health insurance company send customers grocery coupons? The point is to encourage them to make healthier food choices. People who are in better health require less doctor visits, and less prescription medications, than do those who are seriously ill. This is my health insurers unique way of helping people become a little bit healthier (in order to save the insurer some money).

I appreciate what they are trying to do. Unfortunately, due to my many food allergies, I can’t actually use the coupons they sent me. Ironically, I would actually become less healthy if I used these coupons and ate the foods that my insurer wanted to help me save some money on.

Image by Chuck Coker on Flickr