Get a Free or Reduced-Cost Apple Watch From Aetna

Health insurance company Aetna plans to take a page out of Verizon's book by offering subsidies on Apple devices to subscribers on qualifying plans.

Only these aren't iPhone 7s, they're Apple Watches, and instead of buckets of data, they come with apps that will help customers monitor their health. Like mobile carriers who subsidize phones for customers who commit to contracts, Aetna is likely banking on recouping the cost of the watches as their subscribers become healthier and visit the doctor less frequently.

Either that or they'll boost premiums. Aetna didn't announce how much of a subsidy it will offer, but the company did say all of its 50,000 employees would get free Apple Watches as a sort of beta trial of its wellness reimbursement program. For subscribers, the portion of the Apple Watch cost not covered by Aetna can be deducted from payroll checks.

The first Apple Watches will go out to subscribers of large company plans, as well as some individual subscribers, during this fall's open enrollment season.

Aside from Apple Watch's built-in fitness tools, Aetna is working on iOS-specific apps that will help subscribers manage prescriptions and cope with diagnoses of new illness. They'll also be able to create personalized health plans and set reminders to help them take their medicine.

Aetna's subsidy program is a clear win for Apple. Starting at $269 for Apple Watch Series 1, its watch is at the upper end of an increasingly competitive wearables market.

"We are thrilled that Aetna will be helping their members and employees take greater control of their health using Apple Watch," Apple's CEO Tim Cook said in a statement. "Aetna's new initiatives will be a powerful force toward creating better customer experiences in health care, and we look forward to working with Aetna to make them successful."

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