Financial incentives for preventative care

Program basics

  • Financial incentives such as payments and vouchers used to encourage patients to engage in preventative care, like screenings and vaccinations
  • Intended to reduce out-of-pocket costs, provide free services, or reward preventative health behaviors
  • Often focused on women with low socioeconomic status, immigrants, and high-risk individuals

Strength of evidence

Evidence level: Proven (highest tier)

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Proven (highest tier)

Ranked as having the highest level of evidence by County Health Rankings and Roadmaps


Target population

Community-wide

Program cost

Not available

Implementation locations

  • Nationwide

Dates active

Not available

Outcomes and impact

  • Increased preventative care among low-income and high-risk populations
  • Increased likelihood of attending appointments or receiving services
  • Improved patient use of primary care and increased participation in vaccination programs, certain cancer screenings, and tests
  • Increased number of prenatal appointments attended by pregnant teens and can reduce smoking during pregnancy

Keys to successful implementation

  • Note: This content is under review
  • Programs should incentivize participants to fulfill distinct, well-defined behavioral goals.
  • Small financial incentives tend to encourage short-term changes, while larger incentives lead to more sustained efforts and more significant behavioral change.
  • Cash incentives appear to be effective in increasing use of primary care among low-income patients.
  • Partnerships with behavioral and decision scientists and community health workers can help design scientifically sound and evidence-based programs.
  • Adding components like text message-based health interventions and community-wide physical activity programs is likely to positively affect adherence to prescribed treatments.
  • Programs should choose areas of focus based on the health concerns of the community they aim to serve.

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