We all know that regular exercise is good for our physical and mental health. Yet somehow that doesn’t make it any easier to put down the Cheetos or ice cream, get off the sofa, and get outdoors for a brisk walk. Undertaking any exercise program calls for motivation, which many of us lack. These days, more and more health care providers are providing wearables to their customers that encourage physical activity and incentivize movement with money and other rewards.
Samsung Electronics America, Inc. recently announced a collaboration with UnitedHealthcare and Qualcomm Life to offer two of its wearables – the Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro and Samsung Gear Sport1 – in the UnitedHealthcare Motion™ wellness program. UnitedHealthCare members can choose one of the two fitness trackers, along with a pair of wireless headphones, to help them meet their health and wellness goals. Members can earn up to $1,000 for out-of-pocket medical expenses such as co-pays, prescriptions, and deductibles by meeting daily walking objectives. The wearables incorporate a Samsung app that tracks frequency, intensity, and tenacity of walking goals, as defined by UnitedHealthcare. Called “FIT-goal achievements” for Frequency, Intensity, and Tenacity, the tracker records the FIT data and uploads it to the users online account via the app. Users can check the personal dashboard on the app, or log into their account on a computer to see how they’re doing. By achieving walking goals, UnitedHealthCare members and eligible coworkers can also help their company qualify for a renewal-rate cap, which limits insurance premium increases.
While wearables like fitness trackers have become a standard, everyday consumer product, it seems there will soon come a day when they transition from being sold one at a time to individual consumers, to being purchased in bulk by large healthcare organizations. As big healthcare providers like UnitedHealthCare and similar health carriers adopt wearables and provide incentives for their use, large companies that are self-insured will be more likely to follow suit. After all, staying active leads to better health outcomes, and healthy, active employees are happier and more productive, which benefits the bottom line of organizations and companies large and small.