“Making Healthy Cheaper” for Members with MSK Pain

Oklahoma Public Employee Health & Wellness Plan Reaps Benefits From Hinge Health

Published Date: Sep 14, 2023

Ross Naylor
Vice President, Oklahoma Public Employee Health & Wellness Plan (OPEH&W)

OPEH&W serves 100 different local government employers, including counties, municipalities, and school districts. Our members range from public works employees to school teachers and administrative staff.

Many suffer from musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions like low back pain, but the out-of-pocket costs and inconvenience of physical therapy or more invasive interventions are an obstacle to care.

Thanks to Hinge Health, we can now “make healthy cheaper” for members with MSK pain. 

Oklahoma Public Employee Health & Wellness Plan (OPEH&W)

OPEH&W is a public trust that provides health, dental, vision, and life insurance benefits for approximately 100 different local government entities. Our plan covers around 6,000 employees and 10,000 members total, including spouses and dependents. In terms of demographics, OPEH&W members are 52% women and 48% men. Many live in rural areas and their average age is 48. 

OPEH&W’s MSK challenges and benefits philosophy

Low back pain is the number two condition that plan members report, after hypertension and before diabetes. Approximately 17% of our covered individuals have been clinically identified with low back pain. This doesn’t include people with hip, knee, shoulder, or neck issues. 

Money is a big stressor for people and large out-of-pocket healthcare costs can be a burden for members dealing with chronic conditions. To help individuals address their health issues, including musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions like low back pain, we’ve adopted a benefits strategy called “Making Healthy Cheaper.” 

A key feature of the “Making Healthy Cheaper” program is a tier of 30 additional free benefits from third-party vendors that go above and beyond what the majority of other health insurance offers. OPEH&W also has a rewards program which gives members cash rewards for visiting the lowest price, highest quality providers for MRIs and CAT scans, as well as knee and hip replacement surgeries. 

Hinge Health makes healthy cheaper for OPEH&W members

I learned about Hinge Health through our organization’s partnership with Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC). The digital MSK solution seemed like a good fit for the “Making Healthy Cheaper” program. We evaluated several different digital MSK offerings, but none provided the same sort of user feedback and benefits as Hinge Health. 

The implementation of Hinge Health has gone smoothly. The marketing collateral provided by Hinge Health has been a helpful addition to our member communications plan. With 100 different employers and members ranging from county public works employees to school teachers, we have to tailor our marketing materials to different audiences and utilize a multifaceted approach for communication. We use direct mail, websites, handouts, and even restroom reminders to educate members about Hinge Health and other benefits. 

Of the 17% of covered individuals with low back pain, 41% are clinically managed and of that 41%, 79% are participating in the Hinge Health program. To date, the employee response to Hinge Health has been very positive. 

For example, a teacher in his mid-50s had a major spinal problem and was looking at surgery. His pain was so chronic that he regularly lost his temper in the classroom, missed as many as four work days a month, and saw that his marriage was suffering.

Within three to four weeks of using Hinge Health, the change was so remarkable that he stopped using opioids and he’s postponed his surgery indefinitely. He can’t remember the last time he lost his temper at work and his marriage has improved, as well.

Proven results—better member outcomes and economic value for the plan

Hinge Health is providing OPEH&W with good value and it’s making a difference in people’s lives. From our perspective, a program has to do both of those things to be a success.

In 2021, we saw a 3.5x return on investment after deploying Hinge Health. Member outcomes also improved significantly. 

  • MSK pain. On average, each member experienced a 49% reduction in MSK pain after the 12-week Hinge Health program. 

  • MSK surgeries. We saw a 64% decrease in the likelihood that members will pursue surgery. 

  • Mental health. Hinge Health also contributed to members’ holistic wellbeing. Program participants reported a 76% decrease in the incidence of depression and a 67% decrease in the incidence of anxiety. 

I’ve gotten so many testimonials. I know that Hinge Health makes a difference for our members.

It’s a solution that members can do in the comfort of their own home, on their own time, without a copay. When members get their mobility back, it makes a big difference in their quality of life.

In addition, we are acting as good stewards of our public sector dollars by making healthcare more affordable.

Learn how Hinge Health can help your employees and get a demo tailored to your business needs