Financial incentives for preventative care

Local governments can invest in this strategy using State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

  • This strategy can help residents access health services. The U.S. Department of Treasury has indicated that strategies that help achieve this outcome are eligible for the use of Fiscal Recovery Funds.
  • Investments in this strategy are SLFRF-eligible as long as they are designed to assist populations or communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

Program overview

  • 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

Evidence and impacts


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

  • 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

Best practices in 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.