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Health Insurer Subsidizes Apple Watch, Others May Follow

(Image credit: Future)

When Apple unveiled the Apple Watch 5, it did so with a reel of at-home testimonies celebrating how the health features on previous models have saved lives. Between an ECG monitor and fall detection, the Apple Watch serves not just as a desirable piece of tech, but a successful medical accessory, too.

Now Devoted Health, a small health insurer covering seniors with private Medicare plans, is offering the Apple Watch as a fitness benefit for its customers.

According to CNBC, Devoted Health is the first private Medicare provider with such an option for its members. It reported in January that Apple intended to work with insurance companies to get Apple Watches on more seniors’ wrists. Health experts told CNBC then that Apple’s efforts could limit expensive visits to a doctor or hospital.  

Devoted Health’s new benefit will immensely cut the cost of the Apple Watch Series 3, which is normally priced at $199. Devoted Health’s members will get $150 off towards the wearable. The $150 credit can also go towards the new Apple Watch Series 5, which is pricier, but supports ECG testing. 

Adding a smartwatch to plans is a sensible move. Pew research shows 53% of people over the age of 65 own a smartphone. That’s up from 42% in 2017. As more seniors adopt advanced cell phones, it’s easier for companion devices like the Apple Watch to follow suit.  

Though Devoted Health is the first private insurance company including the Apple Watch in its coverage, Apple has designed similar plans with commercial and life insurers in the past. Aetna and John Hancock members can also get the Apple Watch at a subsidized cost depending on their plans. 

Oscar Health, a venture-backed provider like Devoted Health, says starting in 2020 it will offer a Fitbit rather than an Apple Watch as a fitness benefit, according to CNBC.