On 11/9/14, I posted a note suggesting that wearable health monitoring devices might be a means to lower health insurance costs (see: Wearable Health Monitoring Devices: a Means to Lower Insurance Costs?). I drew a parallel to the electronic monitoring device offered by Progressive Insurance called Snapshot that plugs into your car, monitors your driving habits, and then enables you to a reduced premium if your drive safely. Oscar Health Insurance is now bringing this idea to reality for health insurance (see: This Insurance Company Pays People to Stay Fit):
Oscar Insurance bills itself as a “new kind of health insurance company,” one that uses a combination of technology and transparency to bring the stodgy insurance industry out of the Dark Ages. And now, it’s giving the industry a particularly firm kick towards the future. ...Oscar [has] unveiled a new initiative that will provide every Oscar member with a free Misfit fitness band. But in an industry that’s infamous for nickel-and-diming its customers, what’s even more progressive is that Oscar is going to pay its members to actually use them....Counting steps with a fitness tracker like Misfit, he says, is a good place to start. In recent years, fitness trackers have grown beyond the cottage industry of quantified selfers, so much so that even Apple is ready to seize on the opportunity. But having an insurance company...recognize these devices as an actual health intervention lends the entire fitness tracking industry a new level of legitimacy. Oscar members can order their new Misfit on the Oscar iOS or Android app. It syncs to the app automatically, so users only need to strap it on and get to walking. Users who already have a fitness tracker can also connect it to the Oscar app using Apple HealthKit, but that takes a bit more set up. Oscar’s algorithms determine how many steps each member should aim for in a day, based on that person’s health data. Each day a member surpasses that goal, he gets $1. When he accrues $20, he can cash out in the form of an Amazon gift card.
I don't know anything about the Oscar Insurance Company and am not recommending the company. I also don't know anything about its coverage or cost of its insurance. I do think that the idea of paying the holder of a health insurance to walk daily is very smart. All of this reminds me of a note I posted related, in part, to the fact that people who had dogs and took the trouble to walk them were healthier (see: Learning from the Demographics of Doggie Death). Here's a quote about dog-walking in Australia:
46% of households in [New South Wales, Australia] had a dog and, overall, dog owners walked 18 minutes per week more than non-dog owners. However, more than half of dog owners did not walk their dogs, and were less likely than non-owners to meet recommended levels of physical activity sufficient for health benefits. If all dog owners walked their dogs, substantial disease prevention and healthcare cost savings of $175 million per year might accrue.
So, if you are not interested in the Oscar insurance approach, another alternative would be to buy a dog and walk it daily. This should also improve your mood.