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January 29, 2019

Two major health insurance companies now offer wellness programs featuring free Apple Watches

Aetna and UnitedHealthcare jump on the smart watch wellness bandwagon

Health Insurance Smartwatches
EKG Apple Watch Apple/YouTube

Apple's new Apple Watch ECG app in use.

If you put in a little bit of effort, you’ll find that most health insurance companies have your back when it comes to healthy living. Some even offer discounts on gym memberships and weight management programs and smoking cessation plans.

Now some are even offering free Apple Watches as a part of emerging wellness programs.

It was announced on Tuesday that Aetna — which has recently merged with CVS Health — has teamed up with Apple to launch a new app and wellness program.

The app, Attain, is a health experience designed by Aetna in collaboration with Apple. Through the use of an Apple Watch, the Attain app will provide Aetna members personalized goals, track their daily activity levels, recommend healthy actions, and ultimately reward them for taking these actions to improve their well-being, the CVS Health press release states.

The best part? Members can score a free Apple Watch as long as they’re taking care of themselves — users can opt to redeem points for gift cards or toward payments for an Apple Watch by meeting activity goals and other health-related challenges.

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The program is slated to land in the Apple Store later this spring, but there’s a catch: users will need either an iPhone 5S or newer, or an Apple Watch Series 1 or newer, TIME reports. 

The Attain app will provide personalized activity goals based on your age, sex, and weight, and challenge you to engage in activities like getting more sleep. It will also make recommendations based on both your health records and the activity measured by the watch. And perhaps most beneficially, you’ll receive alerts to remind you when it’s time to schedule a visit with your physician or refill a prescription or get a flu shot.

“As we learn over time, the goal is to make more customized recommendations that will help members accomplish their goals and live healthier lives,” Apple COO Jeff Williams said in the press release.

Aetna's not the first company to launch a similar program. In November 2018, UnitedHealthcare announced that eligible plan participants could obtain an Apple Watch by meeting daily walking goals. Thousands of customers who participate in a health rewards program can now "walk off" the cost of the watch, essentially getting a $300 version of the device for free, CNBC reports. 

UnitedHealthcare’s program members to request an Apple Watch (up to a Series 3), if they don't have one already, and they pay taxes and shipping coste. Once they receive their smartwatch, they get up to $4 per day toward the price of the watch by achieving certain activity milestones, CNBC notes.

It’s worth noting that user privacy and data security are of great importance to Aetna’s Attain app. It’s a completely voluntary program, members determine what information they want to share and can discontinue using Attain at any time. Nor will information from this program will not be used for underwriting, premium or coverage decisions, per the company’s release.

Rather, the Attain app aims to bring about increased and sustained physical activity in members, the insurer says.

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