Lady standing on the side of the road checking her wearable

Health insurance wearables

What is wearable technology and why is it important to health funds?

Aussies have taken to wearables like ducks to water, pigs to mud or writers to hackneyed cliches. According to the PwC report The Wearable Life 2.0, almost 50% of Australians own a fitness band and 34% own a smartwatch. The report found that health was the primary motivator for people buying wearables.

Health funds around the world have taken notice, not just of the growing trend but of how they may be able to use the data collected by these trinkets. This article is your guide to how health funds specifically are looking to capitalise on our love for this emerging technology and what it could mean for your health insurance premiums.

Which health funds in Australia are using wearables to monitor their members?

In the 2014 PwC report Health wearables: Early days, the co-founder of online messenger service Twyxt, Roman Weishäupl, was quoted as saying, “The first day health insurance carriers offer a rebate for wearing a Fitbit, everybody who takes care of themselves will say, ‘Yes, I want it!’”

While some health funds around the world have adopted a rewards model for members using fitness trackers, only one fund in Australia has.

In 2015, Qantas Assure (backed by nib) began to offer frequent flyer points to its health fund members who maintained a healthy lifestyle.

The offer? Qantas members who signed up to Qantas Assure would have the ability to earn up to 15,000 Qantas Points per year just by hitting their step goals and completing weekly challenges.

The amount of points you can earn is based on the type of policy you have and your participation in daily and weekly challenges.

Qantas Assure is currently offering the choice of an Apple Watch or 25,000 points to new members who sign up to the program.

Below is the breakdown of how many points you can earn each day.

Table breakdown of how many points can be redeemed per policy

How are wearables changing the health insurance industry?

Qantas Assure is the only health insurance wearables brand offering incentives in Australia but elsewhere in the world, members are able to earn real rewards.

In the United States, UnitedHealthcare allows its members to earn a rebate on their health insurance up to $1,400 per year.

The gamification of getting healthy allows funds to provide those who are already fit or those wanting to get fit with a carrot that will ideally keep them fit and healthy and away from the doctors, meaning they won’t be making as many health insurance claims.

How popular are wearables?

In Australia, 55% of people own a wearable device and 53% of these have their wearable so they can access exercise information.

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Picture: Shutterstock

Richard Laycock

Richard is the senior insurance writer at finder.com.au and is on a mission to make insurance easier to understand.

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