Apple could be giving free Apple Watches to Aetna’s 23 million customers

Apple has reportedly been holding secret meetings to discuss the possibility of giving away 23 million or discounted Apple Watches to health insurer Aetna’s customers. 

Aetna already has an employee perk whereby employees can get a free Apple Watch as part of its corporate wellness scheme. According to CNBC, under this scheme Aetna already gives away 50,000 of the devices, and now are in negotiations to spread the perk to its customers, a potential 23 million users. 

The talks are all top secret, and we only know about them thanks to three unnamed sources that CNBC claims are “close to the matter”. These sources claim that the talks were attended by Myoung Cha, who works in ‘special projects and heath’ at Apple, as well as executives from Aetna, and “hospital chief medical information officers from across the country”.   

While getting a free Apple Watch feels like a significant perk, the obvious fear that we can see for a health insurer providing a tracking device to its customers could be that your premium becomes tied to your biometric measurements.

Apple is watching

On the one hand, the move would make sense as it would mean people couldn’t make fraudulent insurance claims but there is something about your personal measurements being observed by a corporation that feels invasive. 

The number of court cases where fitness trackers are being used to prove a claim (such as this case of a man being charged with his wife’s murder after checking data from her Fitbit) are only becoming more frequent, but the idea of your fitness routine being beholden to observation by your insurer takes away an element of autonomy that feels uncomfortable.

There are similar programs already in operation, like Apple competitor Fitbit’s partnership with insurer United Healthcare. But if the plan goes ahead it will be the first time that Apple has participated in such a scheme. 

It makes sense for Apple to be entering this arena, the Apple Watch is steadily gaining ground as not just a smartwatch but as a fitness tracker. With a major insurer offering free or discounted options on the Apple Watch, it would massively boost the device’s stronghold on the market.

Andrew London

Andrew London is a writer at Velocity Partners. Prior to Velocity Partners, he was a staff writer at Future plc.