Apple in talks to bring subsidized Apple Watch to Medicare Advantage members

“Apple has been in talks with at least three private Medicare plans about subsidizing the Apple Watch for people over 65 to use as a health tracker, according to people familiar with the discussions,” Christina Farr reports for CNBC. “The insurers are exploring ways to subsidize the cost of the device for those who can’t afford the $279 price tag, which is the starting cost of an older model. The latest version of the device, which includes the most extensive health features including fall detection and an electrocardiogram to measure the heart’s rhythm, retails for a minimum of $399.”

“Apple has paid a visit to several of the largest insurers in the market, as well as some smaller, venture-backed Medicare Advantage plans,” Farr reports. “About 19 million seniors, and growing, are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, which are private health plans that receive government payouts for providing services to seniors — about $10,000 per member, on average.”

Apple Watch Series 4 in a Space Black Stainless Steel Case with Space Black Milanese Loop (40mm and 44mm)
Apple Watch Series 4 in a
Space Black Stainless Steel Case with Space Black Milanese Loop (40mm and 44mm)

“The government payments provide more flexibility for insurers running Medicare Advantage plans to invest in new technologies, like the Apple Watch, if they have a demonstrated benefit,” Farr reports. “‘Avoiding one emergency room visit would more than pay for the device,’ said Bob Sheehy, CEO of Bright Health, an insurance start-up with a Medicare Advantage plan, and the former CEO of United Healthcare.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Subsidizing Apple Watches for members is a no-brainer for any competent health insurance provider.

Apple’s next really big thing: Health – January 9, 2019
Study shows active Apple Watch users gain extra years of life – November 28, 2018
Apple’s watchOS 5.1.2 will enable electrocardiogram feature on Apple Watch Series 4 – November 28, 2018
John Hancock and Vitality prove Apple Watch incentives boost physical activity rates by more than 30 percent – November 28, 2018
Life insurance companies are luring Apple Watch users with deals – November 16, 2018
John Hancock offers Apple Watch Series 3 for only $25 to all Vitality life insurance customers – October 23, 2017
Apple and Aetna hold secret meetings to bring Apple Watch to the insurer’s 23 million members – August 14, 2017
In major win for Apple, Aetna becomes first insurance company to subsidize Apple Watch – September 27, 2016
New ‘SweatCoin’ iPhone app pays people to get fit – May 5, 2016
Why you’ll wear an Apple Watch to keep your job – March 14, 2016
Share your fitness data for an Apple Watch – or cash – March 2, 2016
Tim Cook hints Apple might build a health device – November 10, 2015
Apple should double down on Apple Watch’s health sensors, battery life, and waterproofing – October 2, 2015
Health insurer will charge more for lazy people, less for active people, based on Apple Watch sensors – September 18, 2015
Dalrymple reviews Apple Watch: ‘My most personal review ever’ – June 16, 2015


  1. We’ll see how well that works out. With Apple always charging more for all of its products, I can’t expect companies to be jumping at the chance to work with Apple. If it were Amazon, it would have been done by now. Amazon always tries to dominate any market and will gladly make price concessions to gain market share percentage.

    Apple should go after senior citizens and if my health insurance company subsidized AppleWatches, I’d want one. The main problem is that I don’t have an iPhone which is likely needed to set up an AppleWatch. That will be the main drawback for Apple’s push into health care. I don’t think Apple is going to do well at all in persuading health insurance companies.

    1. I can always count on a contrarian viewpoint from you.

      The benefit of reading your replies is that I know that the more contrarian they are, the more successful the Apple initiative will be.

  2. iPhone’s current market share in US is 45% and has slowly trended upward. Even with recent price increases, Apple met sales expectations in the US in the most recent period. Roughly half the country is enough folks for a premium subsidy to make sense. While the watch is pricey it’s incredibly cutting edge, something Amazon could not currently make in its wildest dreams. Moreover, Amazon sells devices really cheaply to “monetize the user on the backend” by surveiling the buyers of Amazon Echos and similar Alexa devices and monetizing their data. No one with any sense would trust Amazon (or Google for that matter) with their most private medical information.

    I gather, MagnificentSeven48, that you can’t or won’t buy an iPhone + Apple Watch due to cost. Maybe compare those costs to the price of an ER visit or a stroke or heart attack that might have been prevented through a combination of exercise and early A-Fib diagnosis. I think you’ll find the iPhone + A Watch to be th better value by thousands and thousands of dollars. It is that comparison, Imcan assure you, that health insurers will focus on in deciding to what extent they will subsidize high-tech health gadgetry. Right now, this game is Apple’s to lose. Nobody else is remotely close.

  3. This is a great idea. For several versions I had no interest in the Apple Watch. Decided to buy one for Christmas and won’t be able to live without it now! For the first time, my watch is an Exercise coach that holds me accountable for 1) walking, 2) standing and doing some form of cardio everyday! And it will tell time, act as a phone and make me feel good when I meet my goals.

    At this point, I’d be hard pressed to do without my Apple Watch. Best product my money could buy. It may actually save my life!

    1. I’m 72 and bought the Apple Watch Series 4 for the health monitoring benefits.

      So far there hasn’t been any, BECAUSE I don’t have any medical issues other than being overweight. But since getting the Series 4 I have begun losing weight just because the damn thing pesters me to get up off my ass. So now I’m spending even more money buying pants that fit (I’m down two waist sizes since September). Also, I live in a 2 story house and now my legs don’t hurt by the time I get upstairs. Damn thing. I hate it.

      Apple should be boycotted for making me spend that extra money. 😋

  4. I have an Apple Watch and my employee provided insurance uses “wearables” to track activity and this might well be a glimpse of what is to come from the conmen who run health insurance in the United States.

    They set targets for you to meet in order to get a “discount” on your insurance which is actually just not getting an increase from the previous year. Otherwise, surrender your activity data to the eye in the sky or your premiums go up- every year.

    Then comes the next part- they increase what you have to do each year in order to keep getting your “discount”. Otherwise, they are using the watch to justify premium increases every year as many/most will not participate or will fail to meet the escalating goals.

    You did not think it was about improving your health or saving you money, did you?

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