UnitedHealthcare, a health insurance company, is now incorporating the Apple wristwatch into its wellness plans. UnitedHealthcare has changed its internal systems by using the Apple watch to track steps and gain credit towards personal goals in a wellness plan named UnitedHealthcare Motion.
Prior to this integration, the Motion plan only accepted data from smartwatches and wearables of brands including FitBit, Samsung, and Garmin. By expanding the reach of the program to Apple users, UnitedHealthcare hopes to utilize a top-selling device and motivate individuals to incorporate a daily wellness plan.
UnitedHealthcare Motion is a program that employers can make available to beneficiaries in their group coverage to create different financial incentives by improving their fitness through walking.
Beneficiaries in the wellness plan can earn up to $4 a day by obtaining three goals. The accumulated money can then be applied toward the purchase of an Apple watch.
The company is offering beneficiaries Apple watches for the cost of shipping and taxes, and the balance of the device can be paid off from daily fitness rewards via the Walk It Off program. Once the Apple watch is paid off, which takes approximately six months, the rewards flow into the beneficiaries’ tax-advantaged health spending accounts.
Current participants in the Motion program have averaged about 12,000 steps per day, and although there has been criticism that wearables encourage people who are already fit, the UnitedHealthcare Motion plans seems to be engaging a variety of individuals.
Patients dealing with chronic health conditions are 20 percent more likely to take part in this program than individuals without problems, according to UnitedHealthcare data.
Additionally, the program can create financial incentives for plan sponsors. According to an insurer, the study data showed that companies who joined the Motion program spent $222 less per member per year compared to non-Motion plans.
The Apple watch can capture other data such as location and heart rate, but UnitedHealthcare said the insurer only receives the data it needs to measure progress in the Motion program, and users specifically authorize it before starting the program.