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Investing in health prevention? This is how public health insurance schemes approach this

The more healthfully people live, the better it is for our public health and the economy. But how do you convince customers and employees to adopt those healthy habits? We asked experts from public health insurance schemes Helan and Partenamut how they focus on health prevention.


Why invest in health prevention?

Barely 2.1%. That's how little Belgian health care spends on prevention. This means that our country scores even lower than the European average of 3%.

It's high time to change that. Because alcohol and tobacco consumption take a high toll on people and society, just like exposure to environmental risks or hidden cancers. A lack of mental resilience, exercise or healthy nutrition also undermines our vitality and productivity.

We tackle this through health literacy and strong formulas for assistance and support.

From public health insurance scheme to health partner

Prevention is better than a cure. Public health insurance schemes such asHelan (Flanders and Brussels) and Partenamut (Wallonia and Brussels) have been promoting a healthy lifestyle for years and are committed to prevention. Each provider has its own accents. Today that is also what consumers expect. Daphne Lai, vitality promoter at Helan, is involved in shaping the new health prevention service. "We evolved from a traditional public health insurance scheme into a health partner. We want to make it easy for people to stay fit for as long as possible."

Health literacy is the real key to successful health prevention. - Daphne Lai

3 pillars of health promotion

A successful prevention strategy is based on three pillars: inform, raise awareness and provide concrete support. This certainly applies to medical prevention, when you want to encourage people to monitor their health and get themselves screened.

  • Inform. Sharing knowledge is a crucial first step. Helan and Partenamut do this through all possible channels, online and offline.
    Daphne Lai: “Health literacy is the real key to successful health prevention. We show people how they can easily make healthier choices, for example, through food.”
    "We provide them with tools to become masters of their own health. As a health partner, we don't jump onboard the latest fads, but we share accurate and, above all, scientifically substantiated nutritional advice that has already proven its value.”
  • Raise awareness. Quitting smoking, cutting down on alcohol, eating healthier… People know what's good for them. However, you should also make them aware of the rewards it can bring.
    Daphne Lai: “Stimulate people in a positive and attractive way to take a first step, no matter how small. Focus on the benefits of a healthier lifestyle, such as feeling better or being able to do more fun activities."
  • Provide concrete support. To increase the success rate of health prevention, it is important that people take the lead and determine the course themselves. Make the positive choice the easiest one and reduce the barrier, for example through innovative tools and services.
    Daphne Lai: "Take Skin Vision, a free medical certified app, for example. This allows users to check suspicious skin spots themselves so that they can find appropriate care in time."

Want to launch efficient health promotion? Download the 8 tips from public health insurance schemes..

Get to know your target audience

Someone who still smokes needs different support than someone who has just stubbed out his last cigarette. And a young woman needs different exercise advice than someone in perimenopause. To know what people need, it's important to get to know your target group well and to understand what stage they are in. Have they integrated their new lifestyle yet, or do they need a little extra push? Focus on this with your offer, information or campaigns.

Find out in which phase your target group is and respond to that with your offer. - Daphne Lai

Valérie De Keyser is a member of the PR staff at Partenamut: "You can also direct your information towards certain high-risk groups. At Partenamut, for example, we focus on positive awareness campaigns about early detection of breast cancer. Through testimonial videos, women are shown the importance of regular check-ups. In this way, we also want to take away the fear surrounding check-ups and breast cancer."

Daphne Lai: "We like to proactively offer what our members need. That's why we regularly organise surveys. For example, a survey among women in perimenopause will soon lead to a series of webinars on mental resilience and sense of purpose."

Make support accessible

Do you want to instigate a positive behavioural change? Then clear all the obstacles. For example, let people taste the healthy solution so that they discover its positive effect. Like this, people find their way to exercise coaches more quickly through discounts and reimbursements from their public health insurance scheme.

People can do a simple test on our website. This way they instantly know where things stand with their mental resilience. - Valérie De Keyser

Mental health, on the other hand, is still a taboo for many people. To make this accessible, Partenamut and Helan have developed initiatives that lower the threshold, such as a hotline staffed by clinical psychologists and free sessions with a psychologist.

Valérie De Keyser: "People can take a simple test on our website. This way they instantly know where things stand with their mental resilience. If necessary, they can immediately consult a psychologist – by telephone or online. In this way, they experience whether they can benefit from talk therapy, and they will more easily seek further mental coaching, and take a step towards greater resilience."

Want to know more about health promotion? Download the 8 tips from public health insurance schemes..

Collaborating with partners

Developing apps, setting up regional health programmes or coaching… It takes a lot of knowledge, infrastructure and manpower. What if that's not available in-house? In that case, public health insurance schemes work together with partners.

Together, they provide services that are tailored to the needs of their members: exercise coaching, nutritional advice, assistance at home.

We are constantly evaluating how we can reinvent our offer to meet the needs of our members. - Valérie De Keyser

Daphne Lai: "In order to reach the broadest possible target group, we outsource certain initiativesWe act as a reliable referral service. This is how our members find their way to certified coaches or therapists. Or to initiatives that offer sound and, above all, scientifically substantiated programmes."

Valérie De Keyser: "We offer our members a whole range of basic services such as social services, home help, and purchase and rental of equipment. We are constantly evaluating how we can reinvent our offer to meet the needs of our members at every key moment in their lives. For example, via Ergodesk we offer free advice for healthier teleworking, we support sporting events such as the Urban Youth Games and we fight breast cancer together with Think Pink."

Discover our 8 tips for efficient health promotion

Do you want to convince customers or employees to live healthier lives? Find inspiration in the 8 tips from Helan and Partenamut.

This is how AXA Partners helps you

Want to invest more in preventive programmes in your company? Do you want to guide customers and employees to a healthier lifestyle? Then you can contact AXA Partners for ready-to-use assistance services and insurance modules.

Online medical or psychological care within thirty minutes for example. A selection from our offer:


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