Can 15 Minutes of Walking Save You 15% or More on Your Health Insurance?

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This week, I came across an article about the new way insurance companies are trying to be sexy, Fitbits. Now an insurance company, like John Hancock, can look at all the data that your Fitbit already records, then give you discounts on how active you are. It is a win win for both sides because you become less of a risk and will least likely be needed to be insured for chronic illnesses and you don’t have to pay as much monthly for your insurance. Sounds like a wonderful deal…or is it?

Issues With This Concept:

I had a few questions on the ablest nature of this program. First off, if someone needs a discount on their life insurance, who is to say that they will have money to get the Fitbit needed in the first place? The New York Times did answer that for me saying, “People who sign up will receive a free Fitbit monitor.” So there we have it, households tight on money can afford the device that will help them save money.

Next, what if you can’t keep up the activity that gives you said discount. The article answered that question too, “[one] could see a premium increase of 1.1 to 1.6 percent each year.” So signing up would be a risk if you ended up getting really sick, but the article goes on to mention that if you have earned enough points to get you at the highest status, “premiums would fall by about 0.30 percent each year.” Which would give the costumer more incentive to be active and get to the “Platinum” status quickly.

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Breakdown of John Hancock Vitality Program

How Points Are Awarded

Now how does one get to these statuses and what are the points for? The first point rewards that the article mentioned was that non smokers get 1,000 points automatically. Most everyone can agree that being a non-smoker has many benefits, and this has been proven multiple times by multiple medical studies, so having that be in the insurance policy I can agree with. I also agree with the policy that keeping a regular amount of activity, i.e. a workout three times a week, should also give you these discount status points. The part that really worries me is the automatic 400 points if the costumer gets a flu shot.

There are lots of controversies about the flu shot and if one should get one every year. Now if this insurance company has ties to ‘big pharma’ and ‘big pharma’ suggests that getting a flu shot would be a great idea, thus putting pressure on the consumer to also get a flu shot, who is to say that it will stop there? In order to get a larger discount a customer would have to do whatever the insurance company thought was healthy? Seems quite controlling to me.

Large Man Looking At Co-Worker With A Magnifying Glass

Is It Really A Choice?

Of course John Hancock stresses that this is your “choice” and you can “choose” what data you want to send to the insurance company or what lifestyle choices you make, but if someone really needs that discount on their premiums, it no longer becomes a choice. This just seems like another way for collecting of big data to end up hurting a vulnerable population.

All of this just sounds like Christian Grey from 50 Shades of Grey controlling what their partner eats, drinks, and does with their life. This new way to insurance just sounds like more of an abusive relationship than a revolutionary way to think about life insurance.


Author: Emma T

Technical Theatre Major

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