Payers may subsidize Apple iWatch

Apple's long-rumored smartwatch may be subsidized by health insurers, according to a note to investors from Cowen & Company obtained by Investor's Business Daily.

The article reports that Timothy Arcuri, an analyst with Cowen & Co., raised the possibility in a note Friday.

"We continue to believe it is possible the product [iWatch] is backstopped by some sort of insurance subsidization model similar to the carrier subsidization model for iPhone," Arcuri said in the note.

Apple's iWatch is rumored to include medical sensor technologies allowing users to monitor health, exercise and diet. The software is also programmed to allow users to enter details about their medications so that they can be reminded to take pills at scheduled times. 

"We continue to feel this product will differentiate itself with existing wearable products primarily from a health perspective with a number of key innovations including noninvasive blood cell count and blood pressure and other more pedestrian features like heart rate," noted Arcuri, according to Investor's Business Daily. Cowen & Co. also thinks Apple will launch its iWatch in September--based on his supply chain checks--and that it will retail for about $250.

According to the New York Times, Apple executives met with medical device and app regulatory officials at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in December. Recently, Google employees also met with FDA officials at the regulatory agency's headquarters who regulate, among other things, eye devices. Soon after, the search engine giant unveiled its contact eye lenses, which use a tiny sensor and wireless transmitter, to monitor and measure glucose levels in tears, potentially replacing the self-administered blood tests from finger pricks that diabetics must endure on a daily basis. 

Health payers already have their own apps for self-monitoring, in many cases; in March, FierceHealthIT reported on Independence Blue Cross, Kaiser Permanente and United Healthcare's mHealth efforts.

To learn more:
- read the article at Investor's Business Daily

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