How'd you like to receive some money from your health insurance company for a change? That's a silly question - of course you would. One insurer is now giving users the chance to do just that. But, there's a catch. In order to earn rewards from the company, clients have to wear a health tracker and prove they're committed to staying healthy.
Oscar is a small insurer that covers people in parts of New York and New Jersey. It sells itself as a new kind of health insurance company that embraces technology. It's making good on that claim by offering all customers a free Misfit health tracker that syncs to the Oscar app for Apple and Android phones. Clients who wear the trackers can earn $1 for every day they meet health goals. Once they earn $20, they can get a $20 Amazon gift cards.
"If I stay accident-free, my car insurer will lower my rates,” says Mario Schlosser, co-founder of Oscar. “Why don’t we give these rewards to people when they stay healthy?”
It sounds like a great deal for everyone. But, there are some privacy concerns, too.
On the surface, this sounds like a great deal for everyone involved. Customers can earn nice rewards for staying healthy and the company could possibly save money in the long run, too. Oscar has tried methods like these before and the results were encouraging.
This is not the first time Oscar has offered its members cash incentives to stay healthy. Earlier this year, it offered certain members $20 to get a flu shot within the month. At the end of the trial, the Oscar team found that the group that was offered the incentive was 2.5 times more likely to get a flu shot.
Researchers are quick to point out that the $1 reward isn't as enticing as the immediate $20 reward, which could produce less impressive results with the fitness band.
So, it's a good deal for customers if they decide to stay healthy. But, what about customers who aren't healthy? For them, the data collected could be a double-edged sword. Could insurance companies use that data to justify higher premiums in the future? Oscar hasn't mentioned anything like that, but it's something to think about.
There's also the question of security. We already know that hackers are targeting medical records, because it can be worth 10 times more than credit card information on the black market. If your health insurer is storing all of the information from your health tracker long term, it could become a target for hackers looking to profit off of that information. Health trackers themselves can cause privacy headaches, too.
Overall, I think this is a step in the right direction to promote healthy lifestyles. However, before this practice becomes widespread, health insurers need to iron out explicit rules for how they will use your health data. They also need to make sure their security is up to snuff in order to keep your sensitive information safe from cybercriminals.