Apple Watch-Medicare deal could bring free watches to seniors

Free Apple Watches may land on some senior citizens’ wrists


Apple Watch Meidcare
That includes a life-saving ECG app.
Photo: Apple

Apple and a handful of private Medicare insurers are exploring a deal that could subsidize the cost of Apple Watches for people over 65 to use for health tracking.

Insurance companies offering the Apple Watch free or at a reduced cost as a carrot to get healthy is a growing trend as the watch continues to grab headlines for its health benefits.

There are tons of fitness apps, but the new Series 4 watch has generated a lot of excitement over its fall detection and ECG feature, which some users say have alerted them to potentially life-threatening ailments.

CNBC, citing unnamed sources close to the talks, say Apple has met with some of the largest insurers as well as smaller Medicare Advantage plan providers.

The Series 4 watch runs $399 and its predecessor costs $279, which may be out of reach for seniors on a low fixed income. No deals have been made, according to the CNBC report.

Some 19 million seniors are currently enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, which are private health plans receiving government money for providing senior services. The payments give insurers the flexibility to invest in new technologies, including the Apple Watch, the report said.

There are cheaper health trackers, but insurance officials would consider the Apple Watch if it continues to show promise in preventing health emergencies.

Insurers have an incentive if the Apple Watch proves its medical might. “Avoiding one emergency room visit would more than pay for the device,” one insurance CEO told CNBC.

United Healthcare already provides a free Series 3 watch to clients so long as they walk 10,000 steps per day. Each daily goal met knocks $4 off the cost.

Source: CNBC


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