Apple announced a partnership with Humana in late September to let consumers share their Apple HealthKit data with the Humana Vitality app in order to receive financial incentives for healthy behavior, such as discounts on their monthly healthcare premiums. HealthKit is a service that brings together wellness data from different wearable devices and apps, letting consumers track and share their daily steps walked, calories burned, heart rate readings, and other data.
The promise: As adoption of wearables increases and health insurers rely more heavily on biometric data, consumers and industry alike will benefit from better healthcare outcomes and lower costs.
However, this healthcare advance won't happen unless insurance regulations keep up with the technology. Under existing federal law, data from wearables and mobile devices is allowed to influence health insurance prices only if the data meets a predefined set of guidelines that constitute an employee wellness program, with a hard limit of 30% for discounts. Now that insurers have the capacity to integrate this influx of biometric data, policymakers must develop a more modern framework.
Incentivizing healthy behavior isn't new to insurance companies, and some employers already use data from wearable devices such as the Fitbit and Jawbone to offer rewards to active and healthy employees. Moreover, a recent survey of 900 US adults revealed that nearly 60% of them would be more likely to use a fitness-tracking device if it meant the possibility of lower health insurance premiums.
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Joshua New is a policy analyst at the Center for Data Innovation. He has a background in government affairs, policy, and communication. Before joining the Center for Data Innovation, Joshua graduated from American University with degrees in C.L.E.G. (communication, legal ... View Full Bio