Aetna announces Apple Watch subsidy program for certain customers

Big health insurer Aetna will give the Apple Watch to its 50,000 employees and subsidize the wearable for certain customers.

Image: Jason Cipriani / ZDNet

Insurance giant Aetna announced on Tuesday it will subsidize the Apple Watch for some of its customers and employees, as it looks for them to live a healthier lifestyle by tracking and analyzing their fitness data.

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Aetna said the Apple Watch program will begin this fall to "select large employers and individual customers" during open enrollment season. While it didn't say how much of the Apple Watch it plans to subsidize, Aetna says it will offer monthly payroll deductions to make covering the remaining cost easier.

Aetna will make the Apple Watch available to its 50,000 employees at no cost as part of the company's "wellness reimbursement program".

Further, Aetna is developing its own iOS apps to remind customers to take their medicine, refill prescriptions, and contact a doctor. The apps, working across all of iOS, will be available in early 2017, the company says.

"We are thrilled that Aetna will be helping their members and employees take greater control of their health using Apple Watch," said Tim Cook, Apple's CEO. "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."

The deal is big for Apple, as health and fitness are one of the key selling points of the wearable. At the company's September event, Apple released watchOS 3 with several new fitness features.