A think-tank is urging ministers to follow in the footsteps of health insurance companies, and prioritise medical treatment for people who can prove that they live a healthy lifestyle.
Demos wants people who exercise and eat well to get priority medical treatment
Health insurance providers like PruHealth already offer incentives to their customers to encourage them to exercise and eat well, by providing discounts on gym memberships and partnering with Salisbury’s Nectar points on healthy foods.
Now, think-tank Demos has released a report suggesting that patients who try and lower their medical risk through healthy living should be rewarded with priority NHS hospital treatment.
This could include bumping professional people to the top of a queue when booking a GP appointment for a non-emergency matter.
It also recommends that people who claim benefits and go to the gym on a regular basis should receive extra payments.
Report authors acknowledge that the proposals are controversial, but believe that people who take positive steps towards their health should be rewarded rather than penalising those who are lazy.
The report's author, Max Wind-Cowie, said: "Obesity, type two diabetes, smoking and the overconsumption of alcohol are things which cost the NHS, which is a pooled resource we all share, huge amounts of money, as well as actually making people's lives unhappy and reducing their living standards.
"So we're arguing that people who take the option of sharing their Tesco club card information, their gym information, with their doctor – it's up to them whether they want to share it or not – and then allow their doctor to monitor that, we would empower doctors to reward people in a variety of ways.”
However, critics say that this is not the best way to tackle the situation. Katherine Murphy, the chief executive of the Patients Association, said: "Proactive investment in prevention, public campaigns and health literacy can deliver change more constructively than punitive sanctions."
If you want to be rewarded for living a healthy lifestyle, look for a medical insurance policy with a reward scheme for people who exercise and eat well.
© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2013