Apple in talks to put Apple Watch into the hands of Medicare users

Posted:
in Apple Watch edited January 16
Apple has reportedly spoken with "at least three" private Medicare plan providers, exploring the possibility of subsidizing the Apple Watch for seniors 65 or older.

ECG app on Apple Watch Series 4


No deals have been signed, but Apple has visited "several of the largest insurers in the market, as well as some smaller, venture-backed Medicare Advantage plans," CNBC said on Wednesday, citing multiple sources. The idea would be to reduce the cost of a Watch for people who can't justify the minimum $279 pricetag for last year's Series 3. The Series 4 starts at $399.

Both models can monitor heart rate and detect signs of atrial fibrillation. The Series 4 has additional health features, namely built-in ECG support and fall detection.

While the Watch is more expensive than other fitness trackers, insurance executives told CNBC that they're willing to work with Apple if it can show that the product can prevent costly medical treatments.

"Avoiding one emergency room visit would more than pay for the device," commented Bright Health CEO Bob Sheehy.

Apple has already made pacts with U.S. insurers outside of Medicare, for instance signing a 2016 deal with Aetna giving Watch discounts to the latter's workers and customers. Life insurer John Hancock began offering the Watch to memebers of its Vitality program in 2017, and in November 2018 UnitedHealthcare started offering the Watch for free to people who meet daily fitness goals for six months.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 25
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 1,454member
    We got my mom (now 84) an iPhone several years ago because it was so much easier to use than her flip phone. At least she can read a text message, but she has trouble responding to one and will routinely do things like send an e-mail with the entire message in the subject line and think it’s a text message. I seriously doubt she could figure out an Apple Watch, no matter how easy it is. My dad on the other hand has no problems with his iphone. I don’t know what the numbers are, but in that age group, there is a significant number of people more like my mom. 
  • Reply 2 of 25
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,051member
    I applaud Apple for pushing their medical venture but dealing with insurers is not the way to do it. Deal directly with seniors (having trouble calling myself a senior but time flies when you're having fun), bypassing the corrupt insurers in this country, is a more progressive way to go. Insurers aren't going to pay for the Apple Watch, they're going to figure out a way to make the customer pay for them. I'm on Medicare (Parts A, B, and D) and have medical gap coverage through a Blue Shield company. My 40 years of paying into Medicare take care of the majority of my medical bills, which, luckily, have been very few and small. I'd rather not have to pay the Blue Shield premium and, so far, I've paid more premiums than I've received in coverage. I don't wear a watch since I retired but would if Medicare had a web portal that used a combination of Apple software and software from others to monitor my health. I'm tired of filling out the same patient information when seeing a different doctor. I want all my patient information either on my phone (backed up by Apple? in a secure partition outside the access by the FBI and others) or on a secure Medicare website. I'd rather see my taxes go towards enhancing the US government computer systems than a wide variety of other government expenditures. I want a healthy country, not a country of sick people who can't get the medical attention they need.
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 3 of 25
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 4,703member
    MplsP said:
    We got my mom (now 84) an iPhone several years ago because it was so much easier to use than her flip phone. At least she can read a text message, but she has trouble responding to one and will routinely do things like send an e-mail with the entire message in the subject line and think it’s a text message. I seriously doubt she could figure out an Apple Watch, no matter how easy it is. My dad on the other hand has no problems with his iphone. I don’t know what the numbers are, but in that age group, there is a significant number of people more like my mom. 
     That's both sad and, typically, unnecessary.
  • Reply 4 of 25
    The insurance company I work for has plans in the market where the cost of the Watch is subsidized. Unfortunately they don’t offer it to their employees yet. https://www.unitedhealthgroup.com/newsroom/2018/2018-11-15-apple-watch-uhc-wearable.html
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 5 of 25
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 4,703member
    rob53 said:
    I applaud Apple for pushing their medical venture but dealing with insurers is not the way to do it. Deal directly with seniors (having trouble calling myself a senior but time flies when you're having fun), bypassing the corrupt insurers in this country, is a more progressive way to go. Insurers aren't going to pay for the Apple Watch, they're going to figure out a way to make the customer pay for them. I'm on Medicare (Parts A, B, and D) and have medical gap coverage through a Blue Shield company. My 40 years of paying into Medicare take care of the majority of my medical bills, which, luckily, have been very few and small. I'd rather not have to pay the Blue Shield premium and, so far, I've paid more premiums than I've received in coverage. I don't wear a watch since I retired but would if Medicare had a web portal that used a combination of Apple software and software from others to monitor my health. I'm tired of filling out the same patient information when seeing a different doctor. I want all my patient information either on my phone (backed up by Apple? in a secure partition outside the access by the FBI and others) or on a secure Medicare website. I'd rather see my taxes go towards enhancing the US government computer systems than a wide variety of other government expenditures. I want a healthy country, not a country of sick people who can't get the medical attention they need.
    I think that is a very misguided approach:
    1)   Bypassing the healthcare system (of which insurers are a part) leaves them off the hook.   Basically, the health care system says:  "We will manage your diseases, but promoting your health is strictly YOUR responsibility."   The net effect is:  We pay our healthcare system  $3.5 Trillion a year (5 times the defense budget)..  And 75% of that goes to treat the cumulative effects of unhealthy lifestyles.  That is:  our healthcare system has a nice racket going:   They refuse to give anymore than lip service to disease prevention* and make hundreds of billions treating the effects of the diseases caused by those unhealthy lifestyles.

    (* Our healthcare system calls early detection (like PSA tests) "Prevention".  They aren't.  They are simply early detection enabling earlier treatment.   True prevention can only be done with a healthy lifestyle.)

    2)  Collecting all of your medical history from healthcare providers and spreading it around carries the assumption that that information is accurate.   Seldom is that true.  More likely it contains a raft of diagnosis that were made to diagnose a condition or to justify and insurance payment -- or simply because the physician was wrong.
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 6 of 25
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 4,703member
    Giving Medicare patients an Apple Watch would be better than nothing -- but far from optimal from any perspective (except Apple's profits).

    Yes, providing seniors with arrhythmia detection, fall detection and a simple, always available way to call for help would be a VERY good thing.   I agree with doing that, 200% (particularly the latter two).

    But, the biggest benefit from the Apple Watch (and its companion the iPhone) lies in the years leading up to Medicare eligibility.  That is:   Most of our "age related" chronic diseases such as debility, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, etc... are not caused by aging but by the cumulative effects of decades of unhealthy lifestyles.

    Heart Disease, like cancer and other chronic diseases, start decades before it becomes symptomatic and slowly build until they become detectable by the medical profession and then, suddenly, they become a disease to be treated (when its often too late).

    Insurers would be better served by providing Apple Watches to 20 somethings so they could promote healthy lifestyles that would avoid an estimated 50-80% of our so called "age related" chronic diseases that pop up 40-50 years later.
    edited January 16 muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 7 of 25
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 2,366member
    Giving Medicare patients an Apple Watch would be better than nothing -- but far from optimal from any perspective (except Apple's profits).

    Yes, providing seniors with arrhythmia detection, fall detection and a simple, always available way to call for help would be a VERY good thing.   I agree with doing that, 200% (particularly the latter two).

    But, the biggest benefit from the Apple Watch (and its companion the iPhone) lies in the years leading up to Medicare eligibility.  That is:   Most of our "age related" chronic diseases such as debility, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, etc... are not caused by aging but by the cumulative effects of decades of unhealthy lifestyles.

    Heart Disease, like cancer and other chronic diseases, start decades before it becomes symptomatic and slowly build until they become detectable by the medical profession and then, suddenly, they become a disease to be treated (when its often too late).

    Insurers would be better served by providing Apple Watches to 20 somethings so they could promote healthy lifestyles that would avoid an estimated 50-80% of our so called "age related" chronic diseases that pop up 40-50 years later.
    Insurers would specifically not be better served with this approach. The brutal honesty of the economics of this are that insurers are better served by handing out Big Macs, booze and smokes to 20 somethings. The very expensive costs to insurers is long term care for chronic disease, and thus it is in their interests specifically for people to die relatively young, and very quickly. There a point where you want young-ish people to pay enough into a system, and then drop dead before they need to pay for their care. 

    MplsP said:
    We got my mom (now 84) an iPhone several years ago because it was so much easier to use than her flip phone. At least she can read a text message, but she has trouble responding to one and will routinely do things like send an e-mail with the entire message in the subject line and think it’s a text message. I seriously doubt she could figure out an Apple Watch, no matter how easy it is. My dad on the other hand has no problems with his iphone. I don’t know what the numbers are, but in that age group, there is a significant number of people more like my mom. 
     That's both sad and, typically, unnecessary.
    What is sad is the (again brutal) reality that as we age, comprehending change and nuanced detail becomes more difficult. Senses fail, and motor function becomes impaired. When my 80+ father was in his last days, I got him an iPad to use from his hospital bed. Telephone was unusable (for years) with him, because he simply could not hear. Getting a working hearing assist device was simply an exercise in continuous frustration. However, the mere holding of an iPad, much less seeing and using a touchscreen was simply impossible. 
  • Reply 8 of 25
    eightzero said:
    Giving Medicare patients an Apple Watch would be better than nothing -- but far from optimal from any perspective (except Apple's profits).

    Yes, providing seniors with arrhythmia detection, fall detection and a simple, always available way to call for help would be a VERY good thing.   I agree with doing that, 200% (particularly the latter two).

    But, the biggest benefit from the Apple Watch (and its companion the iPhone) lies in the years leading up to Medicare eligibility.  That is:   Most of our "age related" chronic diseases such as debility, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, etc... are not caused by aging but by the cumulative effects of decades of unhealthy lifestyles.

    Heart Disease, like cancer and other chronic diseases, start decades before it becomes symptomatic and slowly build until they become detectable by the medical profession and then, suddenly, they become a disease to be treated (when its often too late).

    Insurers would be better served by providing Apple Watches to 20 somethings so they could promote healthy lifestyles that would avoid an estimated 50-80% of our so called "age related" chronic diseases that pop up 40-50 years later.
    Insurers would specifically not be better served with this approach. The brutal honesty of the economics of this are that insurers are better served by handing out Big Macs, booze and smokes to 20 somethings. The very expensive costs to insurers is long term care for chronic disease, and thus it is in their interests specifically for people to die relatively young, and very quickly. There a point where you want young-ish people to pay enough into a system, and then drop dead before they need to pay for their care. 

    MplsP said:
    We got my mom (now 84) an iPhone several years ago because it was so much easier to use than her flip phone. At least she can read a text message, but she has trouble responding to one and will routinely do things like send an e-mail with the entire message in the subject line and think it’s a text message. I seriously doubt she could figure out an Apple Watch, no matter how easy it is. My dad on the other hand has no problems with his iphone. I don’t know what the numbers are, but in that age group, there is a significant number of people more like my mom. 
     That's both sad and, typically, unnecessary.
    What is sad is the (again brutal) reality that as we age, comprehending change and nuanced detail becomes more difficult. Senses fail, and motor function becomes impaired. When my 80+ father was in his last days, I got him an iPad to use from his hospital bed. Telephone was unusable (for years) with him, because he simply could not hear. Getting a working hearing assist device was simply an exercise in continuous frustration. However, the mere holding of an iPad, much less seeing and using a touchscreen was simply impossible. 
    I work for a health insurance company and I can guarantee you we are not better served nor would ever promote unhealthy lifestyles. More and more health insurance is centering around incentives for preventative care and for people to live healthier lifestyles. That’s why more companies are offering wearable devices and the ability to buy down deductibles meeting certain goals (like walking 10K steps in a day). It’s all about trying to get costs under control.
  • Reply 9 of 25
    I’ve fallen or made sudden movements a dozen times since I’ve had my series 4 that have invoked the query. Good to know it works, but I wonder how deeply it uses the feedback I give it in order to reduce false alarms. I also fear that I will fail to respond sometime and end up with paramedics at my door. 
    maciekskontakt
  • Reply 10 of 25
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,301member
    The 'Did you fall?' feature in this age group will save many lives not to mention all the other features.  
    chasm
  • Reply 11 of 25
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,301member
    I’ve fallen or made sudden movements a dozen times since I’ve had my series 4 that have invoked the query. Good to know it works, but I wonder how deeply it uses the feedback I give it in order to reduce false alarms. I also fear that I will fail to respond sometime and end up with paramedics at my door. 
    A neighbor had a false alarm of a fall from a non-Apple watch device.  The Fire Engine was there before she realized.  I happened to be there at the time they arrived and they could not have been nicer to the old lady and said 'no worries, better safe than sorry.'  She gave them a piece of cake and a glass of lemonade. 
    edited January 16 GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 12 of 25
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 4,703member
    eightzero said:
    Giving Medicare patients an Apple Watch would be better than nothing -- but far from optimal from any perspective (except Apple's profits).

    Yes, providing seniors with arrhythmia detection, fall detection and a simple, always available way to call for help would be a VERY good thing.   I agree with doing that, 200% (particularly the latter two).

    But, the biggest benefit from the Apple Watch (and its companion the iPhone) lies in the years leading up to Medicare eligibility.  That is:   Most of our "age related" chronic diseases such as debility, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, etc... are not caused by aging but by the cumulative effects of decades of unhealthy lifestyles.

    Heart Disease, like cancer and other chronic diseases, start decades before it becomes symptomatic and slowly build until they become detectable by the medical profession and then, suddenly, they become a disease to be treated (when its often too late).

    Insurers would be better served by providing Apple Watches to 20 somethings so they could promote healthy lifestyles that would avoid an estimated 50-80% of our so called "age related" chronic diseases that pop up 40-50 years later.
    Insurers would specifically not be better served with this approach. The brutal honesty of the economics of this are that insurers are better served by handing out Big Macs, booze and smokes to 20 somethings. The very expensive costs to insurers is long term care for chronic disease, and thus it is in their interests specifically for people to die relatively young, and very quickly. There a point where you want young-ish people to pay enough into a system, and then drop dead before they need to pay for their care. 

    MplsP said:
    We got my mom (now 84) an iPhone several years ago because it was so much easier to use than her flip phone. At least she can read a text message, but she has trouble responding to one and will routinely do things like send an e-mail with the entire message in the subject line and think it’s a text message. I seriously doubt she could figure out an Apple Watch, no matter how easy it is. My dad on the other hand has no problems with his iphone. I don’t know what the numbers are, but in that age group, there is a significant number of people more like my mom. 
     That's both sad and, typically, unnecessary.
    What is sad is the (again brutal) reality that as we age, comprehending change and nuanced detail becomes more difficult. Senses fail, and motor function becomes impaired. When my 80+ father was in his last days, I got him an iPad to use from his hospital bed. Telephone was unusable (for years) with him, because he simply could not hear. Getting a working hearing assist device was simply an exercise in continuous frustration. However, the mere holding of an iPad, much less seeing and using a touchscreen was simply impossible. 
    While your "kill 'em off early" approach would work to save money, there is one critical piece you missed:   Our healthcare system is quite good at keeping the walking dead alive.  As has been said:   "There's no money in healthy people, and there's no money in dead people -- The money is in the alive but barely...."

    And too, many of those "age related diseases" are, again,, the results of decades of unhealthy lifestyles -- that includes much of vision loss (hearing probably less so) and arthritis.   That's a problem and we need to fix it
  • Reply 13 of 25
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 4,703member
    MacPro said:
    The 'Did you fall?' feature in this age group will save many lives not to mention all the other features.  
    Perhaps more important than saving lives -- is getting help.   If you had ever seen an oldster who laid on the floor for a few day because they were unable to get up you would know what I mean.  It's ugly.   Really ugly.
  • Reply 14 of 25
    They will be kept alive as long as iWatch batter is alive and it does not require new device ;)
  • Reply 15 of 25
    I’ve fallen or made sudden movements a dozen times since I’ve had my series 4 that have invoked the query. Good to know it works, but I wonder how deeply it uses the feedback I give it in order to reduce false alarms. I also fear that I will fail to respond sometime and end up with paramedics at my door. 
    Well it could be worse. I do very sudden moves at some performance sport and paramedics should not try show up there as police may be onto them ;) Well I would need to stop wearing watch.
  • Reply 16 of 25
    volcanvolcan Posts: 1,789member
    MplsP said:
    We got my mom (now 84) an iPhone several years ago because it was so much easier to use than her flip phone. At least she can read a text message, but she has trouble responding to one and will routinely do things like send an e-mail with the entire message in the subject line and think it’s a text message. I seriously doubt she could figure out an Apple Watch, no matter how easy it is. My dad on the other hand has no problems with his iphone. I don’t know what the numbers are, but in that age group, there is a significant number of people more like my mom. 
    There are a lot of "baby boomers" who have recently turned 65 or getting close to that age. Many of them have very robust lifestyles and are comfortable with technology. Your mom is of the previous generation.

    My problem with the Apple Watch is that I need to use my reading glasses to see the small text. I can't do that while driving because the reading glasses only focus for a close distance - not suitable while driving or even walking around for that matter. I'm thinking of getting RK but I've read it doesn't remain effective past a few years.
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 17 of 25
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,301member
    MacPro said:
    The 'Did you fall?' feature in this age group will save many lives not to mention all the other features.  
    Perhaps more important than saving lives -- is getting help.   If you had ever seen an oldster who laid on the floor for a few day because they were unable to get up you would know what I mean.  It's ugly.   Really ugly.
    That's kind of what I meant.  The 'did you fall?" dials 911 (and I assume gives an exact location) if you don't answer no within a short time frame.'.  
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 18 of 25
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,301member
    volcan said:
    MplsP said:
    We got my mom (now 84) an iPhone several years ago because it was so much easier to use than her flip phone. At least she can read a text message, but she has trouble responding to one and will routinely do things like send an e-mail with the entire message in the subject line and think it’s a text message. I seriously doubt she could figure out an Apple Watch, no matter how easy it is. My dad on the other hand has no problems with his iphone. I don’t know what the numbers are, but in that age group, there is a significant number of people more like my mom. 
    There are a lot of "baby boomers" who have recently turned 65 or getting close to that age. Many of them have very robust lifestyles and are comfortable with technology. Your mom is of the previous generation.

    My problem with the Apple Watch is that I need to use my reading glasses to see the small text. I can't do that while driving because the reading glasses only focus for a close distance - not suitable while driving or even walking around for that matter. I'm thinking of getting RK but I've read it doesn't remain effective past a few years.
    The answer in the car is CarPlay.  Seamless integration with Apple Watch and iPhone, you can ask Siri to read messages and dictate them.  I especially like my new wireless Pioneer model.
    GeorgeBMacjdgaz
  • Reply 19 of 25
    volcanvolcan Posts: 1,789member
    MacPro said:
    volcan said:
    MplsP said:
    We got my mom (now 84) an iPhone several years ago because it was so much easier to use than her flip phone. At least she can read a text message, but she has trouble responding to one and will routinely do things like send an e-mail with the entire message in the subject line and think it’s a text message. I seriously doubt she could figure out an Apple Watch, no matter how easy it is. My dad on the other hand has no problems with his iphone. I don’t know what the numbers are, but in that age group, there is a significant number of people more like my mom. 
    There are a lot of "baby boomers" who have recently turned 65 or getting close to that age. Many of them have very robust lifestyles and are comfortable with technology. Your mom is of the previous generation.

    My problem with the Apple Watch is that I need to use my reading glasses to see the small text. I can't do that while driving because the reading glasses only focus for a close distance - not suitable while driving or even walking around for that matter. I'm thinking of getting RK but I've read it doesn't remain effective past a few years.
    The answer in the car is CarPlay.  Seamless integration with Apple Watch and iPhone, you can ask Siri to read messages and dictate them.  I especially like my new wireless Pioneer model.
    I have Carolyn but have never used it. Perhaps I’ll give it a try. My concern is that I don’t want to be distracted while driving. LA traffic and reckless drivers require a lot of concentration.
  • Reply 20 of 25
    volcan said:
    My problem with the Apple Watch is that I need to use my reading glasses to see the small text. I can't do that while driving because the reading glasses only focus for a close distance - not suitable while driving or even walking around for that matter. I'm thinking of getting RK but I've read it doesn't remain effective past a few years.
    The simple solution here is to use Voice Over, part of the accessibility features on most all Apple devices. I was blind for three years recently and relied on Voice Over to "tell" me what was on the screen. For those who are driving and don't want to move their hands off the wheel, you could just ask Siri to read things like text messages and dictate messages to other people. Hands free, eyes free, what could be better?
    GeorgeBMacjdgaz
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