Wellness program uses incentive of low-cost Apple Watch

As wellness programs become ever more popular with employers hoping to control the cost of health insurance, some U.S. companies are turning to a program that encourages healthy behavior through the use of an Apple Watch, the Wall Street Journal reports

Biotech firm Amgen Inc., medical group DaVita HealthCare Partners Inc. and insurance brokerage firm Lockton Cos. will roll out a program to employees that offers them an Apple Watch for $25--but the catch is they must pay $13.50 every month for two years for the device unless they meet certain individualized fitness goals, such as walking 10,000 steps a day or logging a certain time of cardio during a given period, the article says.

The program's incentive structure builds off recent research that found employees are more likely to participate in wellness programs if the consequence of not participating involves losing a reward rather than positive reinforcement for good behavior.

As FierceHealthPayer previously reported, there are privacy concerns about workplace wellness programs that share employees' information with outside vendors. But Adrian Gore, the chief executive and founder of Vitality's parent group, said in the article that only the health services firm Vitality Group sees the individual fitness achievements and participation data, and then sends reports based on aggregated information. 

The WSJ points out that companies spent an average $693 per employee on wellness incentives last year, up from $594 in 2014, and the Apple Watch program could have an individual impact of up to $1,460 annually.

Major insurers including Humana and UnitedHealth are also encouraging members to use wearable devices to improve their health. 

To learn more:
- here is the WSJ article (subscription may be required)