New app rewards your ‘healthy actions’ with discounted wellness brands

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The Ness Rewards app allows users to earn points for actions such as going to the gym or getting regular health checkups. They can then redeem the points earned for offers with partner brands. Westend61/Getty Images
  • A new app promises to reward people for the “healthy actions” they are already doing, such as exercising.
  • Points earned through Ness rewards app can be redeemed in popular wellness brands.
  • Users will also have access to wellness experts like dietitians and health coaches.
  • The company is launching a suite of credit cards to help users earn even more points.
  • Experts say apps like Ness can be helpful tools in your quest for better health.

Would you like to be rewarded for doing the things you know you should be doing anyway to take care of yourself, like working out and seeing your doctor?

While the health benefits of doing these things should be reward enough, it sure wouldn’t hurt to have a little extra cash to spend on healthy groceries or an exercise class, would it? not ?

To help you with your wellness efforts, fintech company Ness has now launched the Ness rewards app.

Ness says their new app will eventually allow people to earn points for “healthy actions” they already do, like getting regular checkups and hitting the gym.

Points earned can then be redeemed at their partner wellness brands.

Some of the many well-known brands they work with include Barry’s Bootcamp, Sweetgreen and Thrive Market.

They also acquired WellSet, a holistic wellness virtual course provider. WellSet has a network of 4,000 health coaches, doulas, dietitians, and therapists that you can access using your points.

Additionally, Ness is creating a suite of credit cards to help its customers earn rewards faster.

Future plans include offerings for medical benefits, supplemental insurance and comprehensive health insurance.

Derek Flanzraich, who was previously CEO and founder of grandistwhich was acquired by Health Line Media in 2019, says he started Ness because he was frustrated that his insurer wasn’t paying for therapy visits during the pandemic.

As a result, he became determined to make wellness more accessible and affordable for everyone.

Greatist was created to take care of the accessibility part and now Ness will help reduce wellness costs.

“Ultimately, we see credit cards as the best platform for consumers to get health insurance that will stick with them for 30 to 40 years, not just 3 to 4,” Flanzraich explained.

“When we can justify investing in long-term health now, it will lead to a healthier society with health plan incentives fully aligned for the first time.”

Behnaz BojdPhD, assistant professor at UC Irvine Paul Merage School of Business, said she heard about the Ness app through an Instagram fitness influencer she follows named Megan Roup and thinks it is “a very interesting idea”.

She believes it is very likely to be effective.

“There are research findings that show financial incentives can motivate people to adopt healthy behaviors like going to the gym,” she noted.

She says there may be some downsides, however. For example, people who are not interested in Ness Wellness Partners might have less incentive to use it. Additionally, people who are already happy with their current health insurance might be less inclined to use it.

She suggests that increasing the number of retailers available to redeem points or have a cash back or points donation feature could encourage even more people to use the app.

She thinks that since we are social beings, incentives like the ability to receive likes and share photos can also be good motivational tools.

However, Bojd cautions that while external incentives such as points can be a good way to kick-start your well-being, research indicates that in the long run, people need to have their own internal motivation to stay engaged.

Anamara Ritt OlsonPhD, an associate professor and director of CERES Network Training and Engagement at UC Irvine’s Public Health Program, was a bit more hesitant.

“There are tons of great apps out there, but getting people to use them and keep using them is a huge challenge that few apps succeed at,” she said.

She expressed concern that Ness appears to be designed to increase consumerism rather than behavior change.

“I haven’t seen any data to support that spending money on ‘healthier brands’ actually leads to a healthier lifestyle,” she said. “But, having said that, if it can reduce barriers to a healthier lifestyle, that’s a wonderful goal.”

Ritt-Olson agrees with Bojd that having motivation outside of an app is important to achieving your wellness goals.

“A healthy lifestyle doesn’t depend on any app. They’re just tools. More effective ways to achieve wellness and a healthier lifestyle mean connecting with a trusted medical provider and crafting a plan customized for you and your needs,” she said.

However, she notes that there are some great apps that she personally uses, including MyFitnessPal for tracking activity and food intake, the Calm app for stress reduction, and Open for mind-body workouts.

She also agrees with Bojd that friends can be a good influence on our wellness efforts.

“Texting for a hike or going to the gym gets me out more than any app,” she explained.

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