Wearables are moving into health insurance.
Aetna will be the first health insurance company to subsidize the Apple Watch for its customers, the insurer announced Tuesday.
Aetna will make the Apple Watch available to a few "large employers" and their employees during open enrollment season this fall. The insurer will subsidize a "significant portion" of the cost of an Apple Watch, and offer a monthly payroll deduction plan to fund the rest.
The subsidy is part of a larger partnership between Aetna and Apple. Aetna is launching "deeply integrated health apps" for use across iOS devices, the company said. Those iOS-exclusive apps will address care management, medication adherence, medical billing and Aetna health plans.
The Apple Watch retails starting at $269.
“We are incredibly excited to use iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch to create simple, intuitive and personalized technology solutions that will transform the health and wellness experience for our members,” Aetna Chairman and CEO Mark Bertolini said in a statement. “This is only the beginning — we look forward to using these tools to improve health outcomes and help more people achieve more healthy days.
”It's unclear if an Aetna subscriber will have to use those features to get a subsidized Apple Watch.
Apple already has a significant presence in the healthcare industry through its ResearchKit and CareKit app framework for health data, but this is its first partnership of this kind with an insurer.
The tech giant has also emphasized the Apple Watch as a health-related product, highlighting its water and sweat resistance for exercise at this month's Apple event. The company is reportedly working on new health apps of its own for the Apple Watch.
Apple's agreement with Aetna will provide yet another way for Apple products to collect health data.
As part of the partnership, Aetna's 50,000 employees will all get free Apple Watches and participate in the insurer's "wellness reimbursement program" as a sort of pilot program.
Aetna insures 46.3 million people throughout the United States, the company says.
“We are thrilled that Aetna will be helping their members and employees take greater control of their health using Apple Watch," Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement. “Aetna’s new initiatives will be a powerful force toward creating better customer experiences in health care, and we look forward to working with Aetna to make them successful.”