Apple is reportedly in talks with at least three private Medicare plans over plans to offer subsidized Apple Watch devices to folks over the age of 65.
CNBC reports, citing the ever-popular ” people familiar with the discussions”:
The insurers are exploring ways to subsidize the cost of the device for those who can’t afford the $279 price tag, which is the starting cost of an older model. The latest version of the device, which includes the most extensive health features including fall detection and an electrocardiogram to measure the heart’s rhythm, retails for a minimum of $399, which many seniors could benefit from but can’t afford.
Apple’s talks with the Medicare plans have not resulted in any official deals as yet. The report indicates the Cupertino firm has paid visits to several large insurers in the Medicare market, in addition to some smaller Medicare Advantage plans. The names of the firms have not been disclosed.
While the Apple Watch may be more expensively priced than other fitness trackers, such as the Fitbit, insurance executives indicate they’d be more than happy to work with Apple, as the device could help members detect potentially serious health problems before they require expensive measures to correct.
“Avoiding one emergency room visit would more than pay for the device,” said Bob Sheehy, CEO of Bright Health, an insurance start-up with a Medicare Advantage plan, and the former CEO of United Healthcare.
Apple CEO Tim Cook told CNBC in an interview last week thatApple’s “greatest contribution to mankind” will be health-related.
“We are taking what has been with the institution and empowering the individual to manage their health. And we’re just at the front end of this,” Cook said. “But I do think, looking back, in the future, you will answer that question: Apple’s most important contribution to mankind has been in health.”