NEW TUITION REWARDS PROGRAM ENCOURAGED BY HEALTH INSURERS
PHILADELPHIA -- College graduates live up to 10 years longer than high school graduates. That’s what recent research from prestigious academic institutions shows. College graduates suffer from fewer chronic health problems including heart disease, lung disease, dementia and depression. Education is more predictive of future health than income. In fact, the health benefits of completing at least a bachelor’s degree are more positively correlated with longevity than the negative impacts to longevity incurred by smoking.
Recognizing this, health insurers typically provide subscribers with benefits beyond the traditional medical and dental coverage – gym memberships and nutritional programs. And, to improve the health and wellness of their enrollees, health insurers have begun to encourage college attendance by the students of subscribers by offering Tuition RewardsR by SAGE Scholars, Inc. as a free employee benefit.
The program, now offered by ConnectiCare, Guardian Dental Insurance and Independence Blue Cross, enables families to accumulate rewards points (similar to frequent flyer miles) that can be redeemed for guaranteed minimum scholarships at over 380 private colleges from Maine to Hawaii. In addition, SAGE provides participating families with timely information on how to prepare academically for college and how to finance it.
The participating private colleges boast a significantly higher average four-year graduation rates than averages at public colleges, so a student who enrolls at a SAGE college is more likely to be earning a living after four years of college instead of still studying for a bachelor’s degree (accumulating additional student loans).
The college education benefit can be thought of as a health benefit that leads to a higher income. College graduates ages 45-to-64 have a 60 percent lower mortality rate than those with only a high school education; are 70 percent less likely to smoke; and are 70 to 80 percent less likely to be diagnosed with dementia by age 75. They are 60 percent less likely to be obese than those with no education beyond high school. Completing one’s college education greatly reduces the risk of a chronic disease; medical expenses are twice as high for those with a chronic disease.
Dr. James B. Johnston, CEO of SAGE Scholars and the former director of admissions & financial aid at the Wharton Graduate School, University of Pennsylvania, believes the program provides a larger, societal benefit. “To the extent that we create awareness of the health and wellness benefits of college attainment, as well as increasing affordability, both families and society are the winners.”
A key benefit for the more than 380 consortium member colleges is free use of the expanding SAGE database, which currently includes more than 345,000 students, birth thru high school senior. Participating students submitted $74.6 million in rewards points to member colleges in 2016, including such schools as Arcadia, Bradley, Clarkson, Creighton, DePaul, Duquesne, La Salle, Messiah, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Robert Morris, Savannah College of Art & Design, Susquehanna, University of Dayton, University of San Diego, University of Tampa, Ursinus, Valparaiso & Worcester Polytechnic Institute. •
Source SAGE Scholars, Inc.