UnitedHealthcare adds Apple Watch to Motion employee wellness program

By Jonah Comstock
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UnitedHealthcare has added a new wearable to its Motion employee wellness program. Starting in July, in addition to the Fitbit, Garmin, and Samsung devices, employees in the program will be able to use Apple Watches.

"As part of UnitedHealthcare Motion program, we’ve expanded the portfolio," Paul Sterling, VP of emerging products at UnitedHealthcare, said during a panel discussion at HIMSS18 in Las Vegas. "Currently the portfolio consists of Fitbit, Samsung, Garmin, all the leaders in the space and we’re proud to announce as of tomorrow Apple will be part of that portfolio. Relative to the approach of offering choice and preference, it’s a big, powerful brand and a great product company so we’re pleased to have it in the program." 

United Healthcare Motion, which is powered by Qualcomm Life’s 2net platform, is an employer-sponsored wellness program that launched in March 2016. Participants can earn up to $4 per day in credits by achieving one or more of their goals on each arm of the F.I.T. (frequency, intensity, and tenacity) program. All together, participants can earn up to $1,500 in Health Savings Account or Health Reimbursement Account credits per year. 

Participants in the program will be able to get Apple Watches nearly for free, paying only taxes and shipping. They can then apply earnings from the program toward purchase of the device, owning it in as little as six months.

“UnitedHealthcare Motion is part of our consumer-focused strategy that is driving toward a simple, integrated, mobile-centric ecosystem that delivers value to consumers,” Steve Nelson, CEO of UnitedHealthcare, said in a statement. “Smart watches and activity trackers stand alongside transparency in physician selection and medical costs, easy virtual visits with health care professionals, and digital coaching and online wellness programs, all of which are designed to support consumers in enhancing their health and improving how they navigate the health care system.” 

UnitedHealthcare follows in the footsteps of Aetna, which has been offering some members free Apple Watches since September 2016.

Apple's Director of Fitness and Health Jay Blahnik alluded to Apple's interest in the employee wellness space during a conversation with Babyforyou.net.ua last July, after Apple Watch opened up its 'three ring' structure to be used by third parties.

"Turns out we actually used this app at Apple for our own internal wellness challenge, and we did it globally, so we had a close-the-rings challenge in February," he said at the time. "We had people all around the world. What was great about it is the same personal experience I was having on my Watch was now pulled into a completely third-party corporate wellness experience and we had a chance to see people get really active even at Apple. So we think the idea of people borrowing the rings for their own challenges and experiences, well, I would just say watch this space. I think it’s going to be really exciting sort of innovation in the future."

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