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According to Apple CEO Tim Cook, Apple is now the second biggest watchmaker in the world, behind only Rolex. The world’s most popular smartwatch – and second most popular watch – allows its users to answer calls, emails, and text messages from their wrist, as well as pay for goods or services using Apple Pay and use a variety of apps specifically made for the device. One of the Apple Watch’s most popular uses, however, is as a health and fitness tracker. The Apple Watch tracks your movement throughout the day, tracks your workouts (the Apple Watch Series 2 can even track your swim workouts), and monitors your heart rate. However, many argue that the health and fitness benefits of the Apple Watch are in their infancy, and that the device will continue to evolve into a revolutionary wellness tool in the future.
Today, Apple may have taken another step towards becoming that revolutionary wellness tool, as health care company Aetna announced a partnership with Apple on a new health and fitness initiative. Beginning in 2017, Aetna will be offering customers and employees deep discounts on the Apple Watch. According to Aetna, the company “will make Apple Watch available to select large employers and individual customers during open enrollment season, and Aetna will be the first major health care company to subsidize a significant portion of the Apple Watch cost, offering monthly payroll deductions to make covering the remaining cost easier.” Aetna also adds that they will make the Apple Watch available to its own 50,000 employees at no cost. In return, the employees will “participate in the company’s wellness reimbursement program, to encourage them to live more productive, healthy lives.”
In addition to the subsidized Apple Watch program, Aetna is working with Apple to develop apps that, according to Aetna, will “simplify the healthcare process.” These apps will reportedly help consumers remember to take their medications, refill prescriptions, contact their doctor, understand their benefits, check their deductible, or pay their bills using Apple Pay.
Apple CEO Tim Cook said about the health initiative, “we are thrilled that Aetna will be helping their members and employees take greater control of their health using Apple Watch… 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.”
Aetna’s customers and employees are sure to be thrilled by the new health initiative – and it’s a boon for Apple, as well. Although Apple firmly holds the number one spot in the smartwatch department, sales of the Apple Watch have repeatedly fell short of Apple’s desires. Connecting with Aetna’s 20 million-plus customer base will likely boost sales of the Apple Watch, and a successful partnership may lead to similar deals with other insurers in the future.