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The Ness Rewards app allows users to earn points for actions such as going to the gym or getting regular checkups. They can then redeem earned points for deals with partner brands. Westend61/Getty Images
  • A new app promises to reward people for ‘healthy actions’ they already do, like exercising.
  • Points earned through the Ness Rewards App can be redeemed at 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 useful tools in your pursuit of better health.

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

While the health benefits of doing those 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, right?

In order to help with your wellness efforts, the 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 are already doing, like getting regular checkups and going to the gym.

Points earned will then be eligible for redemption at their partner wellness brands.

Among the many well-known brands that they are working with are Barry’s Bootcamp, Sweetgreen, and Thrive Market.

They have also acquired WellSet, a provider of virtual holistic wellness classes. WellSet has a 4,000-strong network of health coaches, doulas, dietitians, and therapists that can be accessed by using your points.

Additionally, Ness is creating a suite of credit cards to help their customers build up rewards faster.

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

Derek Flanzraich, who was previously the CEO and founder of Greatist, which was acquired by Healthline Media in 2019, says he started Ness because he was frustrated that his insurance provider wouldn’t pay for therapy visits during the pandemic.

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

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

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

“When we can justify investing in long-term health right now, that’ll lead to a healthier society with health plan incentives totally aligned for the first time.”

Behnaz Bojd, PhD, assistant professor at the UC Irvine Paul Merage School of Business, said she had heard about the Ness App through an Instagram fitness influencer that she follows named Megan Roup and thinks it’s “a very interesting idea.”

She feels that it is very likely to be effective.

“There are research findings that show financial incentives can motivate people to engage in healthy behaviors such as going to the gym,” she noted.

She says there may be some drawbacks, however. For example, people who are not interested in Ness’ wellness partners might be less incentivized to use it. In addition, people who are already happy with their current health insurance might be less inclined to use it.

She suggests that expanding the number of retailers available for redeeming points or having a cashback or points donation feature might encourage even more people to use the app.

She feels that, since we are social beings, incentives like the ability to receive likes and share pictures can be good motivational tools as well.

However, Bojd cautions that, while external incentives like points can be a good way to jumpstart your wellness, research indicates that in the long-term people need to have their own internal motivation to remain committed.

Anamara Ritt-Olson, PhD, associate professor and director of training and engagement of the CERES Network at the UC Irvine Program in Public Health, was a little more tentative.

“There are tons of lovely apps out there, but enticing people to use them, and keep using them is a huge challenge that few apps do well,” she said.

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

“I haven’t seen any data that supports that spending money on ‘healthier brands’ leads to an actual healthier lifestyle,” she said. “But, that said, if it can reduce barriers to engaging in a healthier lifestyle, that is a wonderful goal.”

Ritt-Olson agrees with Bojd that it’s important to have motivation outside of an app to achieve your wellness goals.

“A healthy lifestyle is not dependent on any app. They are tools only. More effective means to achieve well-being and a healthier lifestyle mean connecting with a trusted medical provider and crafting a personalized plan for you and your needs,” she said.

However, she notes that there are some very good 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 good influences on our wellness efforts.

“A text to go hike or go to the gym gets me out the door way more than any app,” she explained.