UnitedHealthcare Promotes Wearable Wellness

UnitedHealthcare Promotes Wearable Wellness

Employers and employees could benefit from reduced costs and HRA credits.

Already-popular FitBit wearable fitness devices have just gained another attribute – they can now help reduce your health insurance costs.

Partnering with tech firm Qualcomm’s Qualcomm Life subsidiary, UnitedHealthcare this week announced the availability of UnitedHealthcare Motion, a new wellness program that provides employees with free wearable devices that measure the number of steps they take. The program was officially launched earlier this month at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society Conference in Las Vegas.

UnitedHealthcare Motion is being made available to UnitedHealthcare plan participants enrolled in high-deductible health plans, initially to companies with 101 to 300 employees with fully insured health plans. Employees and their covered spouses receive custom-designed wearable devices that track the number of steps users take each day. UnitedHealthcare Motion is currently available to employers and their employees in several states; Minnesota is not yet among them. Additional markets will be added throughout the coming year.

Unlike other wearables that track only the total number of steps, the UnitedHealthcare Motion devices are designed to tabulate the total number, frequency and intensity of the steps taken. The data is then sent to the UnitedHealthcare Motion app, which uses Qualcomm Life's 2net mobile connectivity platform. According to UnitedHealthcare, participants can earn health reimbursement account (HRA) credits that can total up to $1,460 per year. Employers can also save on premiums, based on program participants' combined results.

UnitedHealthcare Motion could well be just the first of many products introduced via the connection between UnitedHealthcare and Qualcomm Life. The collaboration plans to focus on new UnitedHealthcare programs and services that incorporate wearables, medical devices and home diagnostic tests using Qualcomm Life’s 2net platform.

In launching UnitedHealthcare Motion, the company is tapping into a rapidly growing market. According to a study cited by UnitedHealthcare, the wearable-technology market represents a $2 billion industry. An estimated 20 percent of adults already own a wearable device.