Health insurer will charge more for lazy people, less for active people, based on Apple Watch sensors

“In June, Swiss insurance provider, CSS Insurance announced that it would launch a pilot program to monitor its customers’ digital pedometers,” Alexandra Ossola reports for Popular Science. “Now that project is nearly halfway completed, the company’s higher-ups report that the results have been overwhelmingly positive—so positive, in fact, that the provider may soon start charging higher premiums for those who don’t meet their daily step quota or choose not to participate in the program, according to the Swiss news organization, The Local.”

“The pilot program, called MyStep, is the first of its kind by any insurer in Europe. The company monitors the step count of 2,000 people using digital pedometers like Fitbits or Apple Watches,” Ossola reports. “That information is regularly synced with CSS’ online portal. This works for both the insurer and the customer, the company reasons: Customers can take more ownership over their health and push themselves to complete the recommended 10,000 steps per day… And the insurance company can charge more for those who don’t meet it. The pilot program is also intended to see how much information customers are willing to share with their insurance providers, The Local reports, and it looks like they’re willing to share a lot if it means lower premiums.”

Ossola reports, “It’s only a matter of time before similar programs make their way to the U.S.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Can’t happen soon enough. Those who want to sit around, munching chips, while encasing themselves in growing rolls of fat should pay more for the costs brought on by their heart attacks, gout, diabetes, strokes, asthma, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, and cancer treatments.

Next we need a way for Apple Watch to detect smokers and charge them more, too. People who make the effort to be healthy, regardless of whether they actually are lucky enough to be healthy or not*, should pay less for their health insurance as they tax the system far less than those who are sedentary, obese and/or smoke. Just as life insurance costs more for those who live unhealthy lifestyles, their health insurance should cost more, too. (Life insurers should utilize Apple Watches in much the same way.)

*If a person is obese for reasons beyond a sedentary, unhealthy lifestyle, who is actively trying to be healthy as shown by their Apple Watch, but other conditions prevent fat loss (Hypothyroidism, Cushing’s syndrome, hormonal imbalances, Syndrome X, medications, etc.) they should get a lower rate than those who are simply leading sedentary, unhealthy lifestyles. Most cases of obesity are due to sedentary lifestyles and consuming more calories than required, not medical conditions.

Furthermore, people should have every right to sit around eating chips and smoking until they drop dead (unfortunately, it’s rarely that clean; they often first tax the health system to a great degree by developing diabetes, cancers, banging off a couple of heart attacks, having a stroke here and there, etc. before they finally make their exit) and insurance companies should have every right to charge them more since, overall, they cost far more to take care of due to their poor choice(s) which raises costs for those who are trying to take care of themselves and therefore cost the system far less.

If you’re fat because you sit around too much and take in more calories than you can possible burn off by sitting on your ass all day, don’t be offended. Either keep on as you’re doing and pay more to cover your increased costs or put down the chips, stand up and get moving! (You can thank us later by continuing to visit during the 10-20 extra years you’ll get by following our latter advice.)

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “David E.” for the heads up.]

84 Comments

  1. The article states that the company will charge people more if they refuse to participate or if they don’t do what the company demands. There are many people who can’t walk or run 5 miles a day and it has nothing to do with weight. That standard is ABSURD!!!!!

    This “idea” is intrusive and I doubt that it will fly here in the US.

  2. Number of steps isn’t necessarily the best metric to use to keep track of one’s effort at exercising. For example, I’m extremely active – I practice martial arts 3-4 days a week, run 2 to 4 miles a few times per week, a couple hours on the rowing machine each week, heavy bag, etc. With the exception of running, none of these activities translate to a great deal of steps. I use both a FitBit and an Apple Watch, and looking back through my history, I don’t hit 10,000 steps on most days, but I usually burn between 600 – 1,400 active calories (calories burned at cardio HR or above) per day. On the contrary, I know people who admittedly get over 10,000 steps per day “walking around the office with a donut in hand”. High step counts don’t directly translate to good health. If an insurance company wanted to do something like this accurately (and I’m not sure it’s a good idea) it would need to take several data points into consideration as opposed to just step count.

  3. Terrible take MDN. Every time I’ve injured myself (causing a health insurance payout) it was while exercising. What about those with arthritis or ankle injuries who can’t walk 10,000 steps? They have to beg for a waiver? The idea of employer-based insurance is that everyone pays the same. One day you too will be older and maybe not as spry in your steps.
    If this came to the U.S. it would likely violate the ADA. But some employers are already pushing the boundaries by requiring participation in wellness programs.
    I love to be fit, but that’s my choice not my employer’s.

    1. Agree. A lot of medical expenses are involved with activities while a lot are involved with a sedentary lifestyle. A vast portion is consumed by cancer, an equal opportunity issue.

      This is much like cigarette smokers. They pollute the air and it isn’t healthy. As such, the health police already make them pay more for breathing, normally charged as extra taxes on cigarettes.

      Any given group makes a good scapegoat to burden with the greatest expense; that is as long as it is a group to which we don’t belong. Insurance companies are using the same strategies as the politicians: cause people to turn on each other and they can be easily controlled.

  4. So they’re willing to give discounts for poor quality, non-verifiable data?

    I live in a tri-level house, with two half-flights of stairs. Even though I go up and down those stairs 30-40 times a day my iPhone consistently reports 0-1 flights of stairs daily. The data quality is laughable.

  5. I’m at the gym every day (sometimes twice a day) doing strength and cardio. Yet, most of my activity doesn’t register as “steps”. I wonder how the insurance company would set my rates?

  6. Where there will be legitimate controversy regarding this issue is whether a person has a CHOICE of being sedentary, knowing the health implications. Many ill people don’t have a choice. And obviously, we know the scum rat insurance companies are going to attempt to use that lack of choice against the ill person. That’s what scum rats do.

    Whereas, if a person can CHOOSE to be active, in pursuit of their personal health, the more incentives the better.

    The fine points: What constitutes ‘choice’? Does a married person with kids, working a salary job that requires outrageous hours each week, have much of a ‘choice’ to be active away from work? That’s one example of a question I expect will be asked. If their priority is their kids over the gym, can that be held against them? I don’t know.

    1. Such are the fine points as addressed in many another complex social policy such as progressive taxation, legal culpability, etc. — ‘twould be dead simple for the lawmakers, were people more alike in their propensity and behaviour, and unlike the lawmakers themselves (Burns)

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