Financial incentives have been shown to influence healthy behavior, and Medicaid populations are no exception. The key is offering incentives that members value, targeting current (not future) behaviors, and delivering the reward promptly after the desired behavior has been completed.
Let’s break each one of those principles down.
First, don’t assume all incentives are created equal. While things like free classes and health coaching might be valuable to some, Medicaid members are more likely to respond to things that help with their bottom-line expenses, like pre-paid debit cards, or gift cards for groceries or transportation. These types of rewards also help address SDoH, which disproportionately affect the Medicaid population.
Second, make sure you’re targeting current behaviors. If your engagement program is using text messaging as the primary way to reach members, remember that the messages should be specific and immediate. Keep members focused on the next activity they need to complete and follow up with a few reminders. Don’t tell them about the visit they need to schedule 6 months from now.
Third, deliver the reward promptly after the activity is completed. Consumers are conditioned for instant gratification. They’ll be willing to wait a few weeks for their reward, but not several months. Invest in an expedient reward delivery process to help ensure that the positive feedback loop of behavior/reward, and the ongoing engagement it fosters, isn’t interrupted.