UnitedHealth debuts wellness program tied to fitness trackers

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A new initiative from UnitedHealthcare seeks to combine a wearable fitness device, an app and a wellness program to help employers and employees save on healthcare costs.

The program, for which United is collaborating with technology company QualComm, will encourage participants to become healthier and more active by helping them pay for the cost of everyday healthcare, according to the companies. 

United will provide employees and their covered spouses at select companies with custom-designed wearable devices that track various activities such as the number of steps each user takes throughout the day.

Data collected from the wearables will be sent to UnitedHealthcare Motion app, and wearers can earn up to $1,460 in reimbursement account credits based on their usage. The device tracks three areas to determine the financial incentive employees can earn: frequency of steps (six times per day for at least five minutes) earns $1.50 per day; intensity (3,000 steps in 30 minutes) earns $1.25 per day; and tenacity (10,000 total steps) earns $1.25 per day.

"Not everybody is going to achieve all those numbers every day, but we put the cost of the device and the incentives are in the insurance premium so they are paid for," Steve Beecy, vice president at UnitedHealthcare, tells Forbes.

Insurance companies have recently endorsed the use of wearable technology to improve employee health, as it has been shown that such devices can motivate people to engage in healthy activity. Wearables have also been tested for use with epileptics by warning of impending seizures and devices that can help patients battling depression.

To learn more:
- read the announcement
- check out the Forbes post

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