Ten years ago, could you have imagined that the measly timekeeper around your wrist could save your life? In 2018, disease-detecting accessories are no longer science fiction.
Last year, research showed that Apple Watch’s heart rate sensor could accurately pick up atrial fibrillation, an abnormal heart rate that can lead to stroke or heart disease. With this type of data becoming more easily accessible and attainable, health insurers are increasingly capitalizing on advancements in technology.
“Data-driven companies are out there creating these wearable technologies that give an all day, every day picture of one’s health. If someone is sedentary and not moving around, they are absolutely at a higher risk than someone who is active and always on the move,” says Laird Rixford, president of Insurance Technologies Corporation (ITC). “These are really valid data points, just like Progressive’s Snapshot is with driving.”
As Rixford explains, when filling out a health insurance form, individuals can mark options, such as non-smoker, regular exercise, healthy diet, etc., but it doesn’t paint an accurate picture of your actual health.
“If you were to couple technology and the data that wearables track, like heart rate and how often I move, it can create a better picture that an insurer can better insure,” he says.
Rixford also points out how the use of wearable technologies is a benefit for all parties: the insured and the insurer by lowering insurance premiums and lowering an insurance company’s risk profile. And from here, technology is only expected to get better and better.
Health insurance is no different and it benefits both sides. Sure, the company doesn’t get more money from a customer, but those lower rates actually help the firm too because they are lowering their risk profile. It is a win-win for everybody.
“There’s a whole treasure trove of information that will benefit not only the insurers but also the users,” Rixford says.
“I try to remind everyone: driving is a privilege, however, living is a right. Whenever you start tracking someone’s right to be alive that’s when privacy concerns come into play. That’s the final big push when it comes to wearables and using that information for health-based information and the decisions around who owns that data.”
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