Private Medicare plan Devoted Health is the first to cover Apple Watch as a benefit

Apple Watch as a benefit

Devoted Health, a start-up health insurer targeting seniors with its private Medicare plans, is the first to offer Apple Watch as a fitness benefit to its members.

Founded by brothers and serial entrepreneurs Todd and Ed Park, Devoted wants to differentiate itself in an increasingly crowded market of Medicare Advantage plans through its focus on “world class technology,” its website reads. The company will offer up to $150 off the cost of an Apple Watch for its members.

At the moment, there are more than 20 million Americans over the age of 65 who are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage program. Run by private companies, these plans are approved by Medicare to cover seniors’ health, typically with more flexibility and a broader array of benefits. Overall, the market is expected to generate more than $350 billion in annual revenue by 2020, according to the consulting firm PwC.

For Apple, the move by Devoted offers a big potential boost to device sales because seniors are increasingly adopting new technologies and therefore might be interested in a smartwatch. Said smartwatch offers fall detection and heart health monitoring out of the box, making it a good product to mash with any health plan.

Moreover, Medicare Advantage plans themselves have more of an incentive to embrace modern technologies as they tend to retain members for longer than commercial plans, and are therefore looking for ways to invest in members’ long-term health and wellbeing.

Naturally, Devoted Health is not the only insurer embracing wearables. Aetna has a similar plan and so do life insurers such as John Hancock.

In a statement, Devoted’s spokesperson said the company is moving to give its members “the tools they need to keep healthy outside of the doctor’s office.”

“We are pleased that CMS agrees that there is a wide variety of ways that older Americans can keep healthy, including fitness and nutrition classes, and activity monitoring devices such as the Apple Watch,” said Devoted Health spokesman Kenneth Baer. “We are thrilled to be the first Medicare Advantage plan to collaborate with Apple, and give our members the chance to use their Devoted Health Wellness bucks towards purchasing an Apple Watch. Using innovative technologies to improve the quality of care is core to our mission.”

Devoted Health was valued at $1.8 billion when it raised $300 million about a year ago.