Health Insurance Carrier Aetna To Provide Free Apple Watch For Employees, Subsidize Cost For Customers


The verdict is still out on whether or not the population at large will embrace smartwatches when they can whip out their smartphones to check the time instead, though one thing that's been propping up sales in the wearables category is the recent hyper focus on health on fitness. It's an angle Apple's been leveraging with its Apple Watch devices, and now it's partnered with Aetna to push its products and services onto the healthcare carrier's employees and members.

As part of Aetna's new Apple-focused initiative, it plans to hand out Apple Watches to all of its nearly 50,000 employees. There's no monetary cost to the employees, they just need to participate in Aetna's wellness reimbursement program. The move is intended to encourage its workers to "live more productive, healthy lives," at least outwardly. But let's not kid ourselves, this is a sales win for Apple.

Beginning this fall, Aetna will also make Apple Watch devices available to select large employers and individual customers during open enrollment season. They won't be free, but Aetna says it will be the first major healthcare company to subsidize a significant portion of the Apple Watch. In addition, it will offer monthly payroll deductions to make paying off the remaining cost easier.

Apple Watch

"We are incredibly excited to use iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch to create simple, intuitive and personalized technology solutions that will transform the health and wellness experience for our members," said Mark Bertolini, Aetna Chairman and CEO. "This is only the beginning—we look forward to using these tools to improve health outcomes and help more people achieve more healthy days."

This is an interesting play. On Aetna's part, it can push the health angle with Apple's HealthKit and various iOS and watchOS features. And hey, if employees and members actually take advantage of them, that's great. But whether they do or don't, Apple's the biggest winner here, as it just scored a big customer and reseller in Aetna.

"We are thrilled that Aetna will be helping their members and employees take greater control of their health using Apple Watch," said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. "“Aetna’s new initiatives will be a powerful force toward creating better customer experiences in health care, and we look forward to working with Aetna to make them successful."

Will it work out that way? We'll find out starting next year when Aetna puts its new Apple-focused initiative in motion.