Both health and life insurance companies have discovered how wellness programs can be used to attract and reward policyholders who pursue a healthy lifestyle (see: Wearable Health Monitoring Devices: a Means to Lower Insurance Costs?; Apple Watch "Gifted" to Insurance Policy Holders; Any Gotcha's with the Deal?). John Hancock is moving in this same direction as described in a recent article (see: John Hancock wants to turn life insurance into a wellness game). Below is an excerpt from it:
The financial services company [John Hancock] said Wednesday that it will attach a free version of its wellness program, Vitality, to all life insurance policies. Through the program, customers can log fitness and health information with the company in exchange for discounts at places like Amazon and REI. For an extra $2 per month, customers receive a free Fitbit or an Apple Watch for $25. If they hit certain targets, they don't have to pay more for the devices and can receive up to 15% off annual premiums. The insurer says that the wellness program is changing the way people think about its products.....John Hancock hopes that encouraging and rewarding healthy behavior will help customers live longer. The company can then make more money investing premiums while deferring the payment of claims. In the meantime, it gets a trove of data on policyholders, while deepening its relationship with clients. The information John Hancock collects could make it easier to direct life insurance customers toward other company products, such as retirement plans.....John Hancock....first partnered with Vitality, a wellness firm, in 2015. Since then, about 40% of customers have opted to add Vitality to their life insurance policies....Vitality users check in an average 40 times per month, according to Tingle. They have the opportunity to sync their wearable devices, or can go into an app to log workouts, doctor visits and meditation sessions.
A couple of points jumped out at me in this article. The first is that 40% of John Hancock clients opted to participate in the company's wellness program with tracking via a wearable like Fitbit or Apple Watch. This group logs on to the Vitality web site an average of 40 times per month. I understand that the John Hancock clients undoubtedly comprise a skewed sample of the U.S. population -- they are relatively affluent and risk averse. However, such a high level of participation in the wellness program suggests that the company has found a sweet spot to encourage health monitoring and a healthy lifestyle for its customers. The second point is that John Hancock is harvesting useful health data which will allow it to provide additional benefits and rewards in the future to customers.
I was also struck by the increasing starkness of the division between the "haves" and the "have-nots" in this country from a health perspective. The Trump administration continues to try to scrap the Obamacare program which has provided basic health insurance coverage for lower wage earners. Meanwhile, the more affluent segment of our population is participating in programs that encourage wellness, thus widening the health gap with the less fortunate (see: U.S. one of world's worst on health divide between rich, poor).