Oscar Health to give members free, wearable fitness tracker

Oscar HealthNew York-based health insurer Oscar Health is pulling out all the stops to ensure its members maintain a healthy lifestyle.

The insurer announced on its blog Monday a new fitness perk it plans to offer members: Starting Jan. 1, 2015, each member will receive a free Misfit Flash to help measure activity.

Oscar will also pay members to use the wearable device. "If I stay accident free, my car insurer will lower my rates," Mario Schlosser, co-founder of Oscar, told Wired. "Why don't we give these rewards to people when they stay healthy?"

Oscar's intention is to prevent its members from getting sick in the first place--and positive incentives such as a financial perk only helps propel individuals' will to work toward a healthy lifestyle.

If the program works, Oscar will be rewarded financially as well, according to Forbes. After all, active, healthy members cost less than non-active ones.

At the same time, wearable devices could have negative consequences. For instance, a member's lackluster active performance could lead to higher premiums, notes Gigaom.

But Oscar is treading lightly to ensure that data from the Misfit is not used for determining the validity of claims. "We are very careful to never use [Misfit health tracking] information internally in any process around determining clinical necessity for certain procedures or authorizing procedures," Schlosser told Gigaom.

Insurers are well-positioned to take advantage of the rise of wearable technology and digital health. The increase of competition on insurance exchanges makes initiatives from small startups such as Oscar stand apart from the herd.

For more:
- check out Oscar's blog post 
- here's the Wired article
- check out the Forbes piece
- here's the Gigaom story