A major UK health insurance company has performed a spectacular back flip over one of their health insurance policies. People, who had previously been offered free gym membership, may now have to find £600 a year, due to a change in the terms and conditions of their policy.
You may have seen an advertising campaign run by PruHealth, a company within the Prudential Group, with the slogan Why Pay For The Gym? People regularly attending a gym were given membership discounts, which enabled them to achieve free membership if sufficient visits were made.
However, in a letter to 175,000 policyholders, PruHealth has informed them that there will be an increase in their gym subscription. The Vitality Status of a policyholder will now be used to calculate their fee.
There is already a scheme in place which ranks every PruHealth member according to the number of Vitality points they have earned……Platinum through Gold to Silver and Bronze. Health related activities like visiting the PruHealth website to read a self help article, visiting Sainsburys to buy healthy food or having a screening, enable members to accrue Vitality points.
On renewal, the number of points accrued during the previous year are cancelled and the policyholder starts all over again. However if you have been with PruHealth sometime, upto 10 – 25% of the points from the previous year are rolled over to the current year. A member can earn 400 points for a full health screening costing £375, whereas you would get a measly 10 points for visiting the gym. The maximum number of points you can accrue from gym visits is 150 a month.
Only Platinum members, who will have collected over 2,000 points by November, will see their gym membership remain the same or be reduced. The remainder will see an increase.
What is more, people living inside the M25 will be ineligible for free gym membership, no matter what their membership status is. £8 per month will now be the cheapest gym fee. PruHealth is directing its members to stepuptovitality.com rather than the previous site whypayforthegym.co.uk.
Many policyholders have been angered by the changes. One member told us that even if they continued to attend the gym twice a week, their monthly subscription would leap from nothing to £50 per month. PruHealth are allowing members to leave the scheme, but those members who mainly joined because of the gym offer, now find that they have paid premiums for a number of months and have not received free membership. The reason being that they had only just gathered enough points to be awarded free visits, when the new scheme came into force.
Customers could still be paying for products, such as health screening, promoted by the PruHealth call centre, in order to achieved reduced gym membership, but would miss out if PruHealth changed the rules again.
In a statement PruHealth maintained that the changes were introduced due to their new alliance with three major partners, Mark Warner, Eurostar and Cineworld, who are all using a Vitality point reward scheme. Evidently it was only gym based partners who used a frequency based reward scheme. Therefore it was sensible to have all of their partners on a points based system.
They added that the changes were designed to encourage their members to participate in other areas of activity beneficial to their health, rather than just the gym. Evidently there will be no financial penalty for cancellation of membership.