Cardio watch to pay less for medical coverage

A little daily walk and you win $ 1.50, exercising more and it’s a $ 1,400 bonus to the year of American Insurers want and encourage their clients to spend and monetize their medical coverage.

The idea is not new, but has gained momentum with the popularization of connected accessories ( “wearables”), these bracelets and other gadgets that calculate the distance traveled or the number of calories burned.

UnitedHealthcare, the second largest medical insurer in the US, provides its customers make in exchange exercise reduced costs for them and their employers. These are indeed required, since the health reform Obamacare, to offer health coverage if they employ more than 50 people.

“One of our biggest challenges is to motivate people to make them feel responsible for their own health,” says Steve Beecy of UnitedHealthcare, whose group provides its policyholders with a small box serving as a pedometer, among other functions .

A survey of more than 200 large employers in the United States showed that 37% of them used the accessories connected to measure the physical performance of their employees in 2015. According to the National Business Group on Health who conducted the survey, 37% were planning to also put it in the coming years.

“We are seeing a growing interest in the use of technology to help people become better consumers for their medical coverage,” Scott Marcotte develops, Xerox Human Resources, who participated in the study.

playful exercise

A symbolic incentives for this trend was that of the brand Target, who proposed last year to equip more than 300,000 employees from Fitbit wristband (measuring heart rate, among many other functions) free or discounted.

In addition, a giant competition was launched, allowing the team of employees with the highest average daily steps to raise more than a million dollars to donate to local NGOs.

Such initiatives are called “gamification,” which can be translated as “gamification” allow employees to have fun practicing an activity beneficial to their health.

The issue of financial rewards, according to Jimmy Fleming, the Healthy Wage consulting group, is essential. “We have customers that offer fully fund a program, but it is less effective,” he says. “We need a sense of carrot and stick. ”

In some cases, like Oral Roberts University in Oklahoma, wear a Polar wrist became mandatory for new students.

Remotely monitored?

Critics, however, accuse these technologies to interfere in the private lives of employees despite the obligation of confidentiality imposed on health data.

“The evolution of technology is faster than that of legal protections,” explains Bradley Shear, a lawyer specializing in the protection of privacy.

A report released this year by the University of Toronto, notes that “in some situations, the information collected by these connected objects were used in cases of sexual assault.”

“There are also concerns about the fact that these objects can be used to track the movements of their owners,” it added.

“The long-term goal is not that you are healthier, but that’s collected more data to sell and evaluate you,” said for his part Barbara Duck, a consultant leading a blog on health.

Some employees feel compelled to participate in these programs because they do not have the means to pay penalties in case of refusal.

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