(The ECONOMIST) – Health- and life-insurance companies seem to think wearable devices can actually make users healthier. They are increasingly underwriting the cost of a range of wearables, including devices from Fitbit, Garmin and Polar.
Aetna and UnitedHealthcare, two big American health insurers, recently created a plan that subsidised the cost of Apple’s pricey watch. Customers of other insurers willing to upload their movement data can obtain a discount on health or life insurance. The more active they are, the greater the financial reward.
Yang Zheng, the boss of Ping An Health Insurance in Shanghai, says that 1.5m customers are already uploading activity data every day. But are these efforts any more than a gimmick? Wearables have long been a bit of a joke, with some complaining that their “time to drawer”—the time it takes for people to lose interest and abandon them—can be measured in months.