Aetna, who has over 23 million people in network, are planning on subsidizing their customers Apple Watch purchases. Aetna believes that the Apple Watch and related apps could be a great health tool to improve users overall health. Aetna will begin the program this fall by offering it to a select group of their clients. The company did not disclose how much it would cover but said the remaining balance will be paid by the customer through payroll deductions.
“We look forward to using these tools to improve health outcomes and help more people achieve more healthy days,” Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini said in a statement. The company will also give a free watch to any of its 50,000 employees that participate in the company’s own wellness plans.
“These kinds of devices have the potential to really affect how people make decisions to lead healthier lives,” says Carnegie Mellon assistant professor Vibhanshu Abhishek, citing some of the same functions that Aetna says it will incorporate. As the devices get more accurate and add more sophisticated sensors, they will become even more valuable in healthcare, predicting heart attacks days beforehand, for example. “You could help the doctor diagnose your real issues, capture a very accurate picture of what you’re really going through,” he said.
This move by Aetna nearly amounts to an endorsement for Apple and its wearable device. With this move, Apple is sure to see sales of the Apple Watch go up as those who may have not wanted to pay full price can now get the device at a lower cost to them. Other companies like Fitbit are sure to follow suit seeking the same sort of deal with insurers. It will be interesting to see how many people take advantage of the offer and if actually using the device helps one’s wellness.
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