Health insurer offers smart watch discount

The Local Germany
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Health insurer offers smart watch discount
Photo: DPA.

Health insurance company AOK Northeast has become the first in the country to help foot the bill for devices like the Apple Watch with fitness apps, in the hopes that wearers will use the gadgets to improve their health.


The insurance company confirmed to German tech news site Chip recently that as part of the firm's campaign to strengthen "digital prevention", AOK Northeast is offering clients €50 towards fitness bracelets and smart watches with health apps. 

AOK Northeast, which covers clients in Berlin, Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, said the subsidy would be applicable for devices that track "heart rate, distance, altitude, speed and calories burned", which would include the Apple Watch.

The €50 could be doled out to individual clients for the devices every two years.

"For us, digital prevention through apps and other e-Health offerings is an increasingly important area of health promotion," said Gerlinde König, deputy chairman at AOK Northeast, in a statement regarding the digital campaign earlier this year.

"We want to help develop this still fairly young field." 

The firm offers many of its own smart watch-compatible apps to clients that helps them keep track of their exercise, sleep and nutrition.

An Apple Watch costs around €400 while a Fitbit health bracelet costs €100 or more.

Newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung reported that simple pedometers would not fall under the company's subsidy.

Techniker Krankenkasse (TK) is also planning to offer vouchers of up to €250 as rewards for going to checkups, according to newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Such vouchers could be used towards a dental cleaning or a fitness bracelet.

AOK told reporters that data collected by its health apps will not be transmitted to the company. But data security experts often warn that such apps pose the risk of insurance companies using the information to raise premiums on clients. 

"I advise all those who voluntarily download fitness apps to not be careless with their sensitive health data and to weigh the short-term financial benefits - which might result in data disclosure - against the long-term hazards," said Federal Data Security Representative Andrea Voßhoff  to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. 



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