Apple May Use Private Medicare Plans to Subsidize the Price of the Apple Watch

Apple Watch ECG reading

The Apple Watch Series 4 is not necessarily the cheapest device out there, and the price tag may be too high for some people to pick up. Even those who might benefit from the smartwatch the most.

In an effort to help with that, Apple is reportedly in talks with private medicare plan providers to subsidize the price of the Apple Watch, specifically for at-risk seniors. According to people familiar with the talks, Apple is hoping to get the cost of the Apple Watch covered, at least mostly, for people who are 65 years or older. This would not be just for the Apple Watch Series 4, but also supported older models as well.

“Apple has been in talks with at least three private Medicare plans about subsidizing the Apple Watch for people over 65 to use as a health tracker, according to people familiar with the discussions.

The insurers are exploring ways to subsidize the cost of the device for those who can’t afford the $279 price tag, which is the starting cost of an older model. The latest version of the device, which includes the most extensive health features including fall detection and an electrocardiogram to measure the heart’s rhythm, retails for a minimum of $399, which many seniors could benefit from but can’t afford.”

The Apple Watch Series 3 does offer some heart-related features, including heart rate tracking. However, it’s the more expensive Series 4 that offers even more benefits baked into the package, including fall detection and the ECG app. While the Series 3 is indeed less expensive, starting at $279, both models might be too expensive for many. Subsidizing the cost would certainly help and get the Apple Watch onto even more wrists where it can be potentially beneficial to wearers.

Unfortunately, the report indicates that while Apple is still having these talks, none of them have actually led anywhere just yet:

“The talks have not resulted in any official deals just yet, the people said. Apple has paid a visit to several of the largest insurers in the market, as well as some smaller, venture-backed Medicare Advantage plans. The people declined to be named as the discussions are still private. Apple declined to comment.”

It’s not a secret at this point that there are some doctors out there who do not see the benefits of the ECG app or other health-related features in the Apple Watch, at least not for those who are not immediately in need of those features. However, we’ve seen in past stories how the ECG app has saved at least one man already, and one who did not know that he was at risk. Those doctors believe the Apple Watch could be beneficial to seniors, and it sounds like Apple wants to make it easier for that group to get one.

[via CNBC]