Smartwatches, especially higher-end models, are a tough sell as many can’t justify parting with several hundred bucks for what more or less amounts to a toy. But, if your health insurance provider was willing to foot some of the cost, would you be interested in giving a smartwatch a shot?
That’s the proposition that health insurance provider Aetna put on the table Tuesday.
In partnership with Apple, Aetna this fall will make the Apple Watch available to select employers and individual customers during its open enrollment season. Aetna said it’ll become the first major health care company to subsidize a significant portion of the cost of an Apple Watch and offer monthly payroll deductions to help pay for the remaining balance of the wearable.
Aetna said it will also be supplying its nearly 50,000 employees with an Apple Watch free of charge so long as they participate in their wellness reimbursement program.
With help from Apple, the health care company is planning several iOS-exclusive apps that’ll be ready in early 2017. Examples mentioned include apps to help users remember to take medications and order refills, provide guides to those with a new diagnosis and help users check their deductible / pay a bill.
The idea here is that, by providing users with a fitness tracking device like the Apple Watch for free or at a lower price, members will be encouraged to live healthier lives which in turn, saves Aetna money in the long run by not having to pay out claims for those in poor health that may visit the doctor frequently or require a lot of medication each month.
An Aetna spokesperson told CNET that employers should be able to offer an Apple Series 1 or Series 2 device “at low or no cost to employees.” How that translates into the real world, however, remains to be seen although it’s hard to fault the effort as it seems like a win-win for everyone involved.