Apple and Aetna have been holding talks in secret. According to CNBC, the two giants have been in talks to bring the former’s health and fitness smartwatch to millions of Aetna’s members.
About 50,000 of Aetna’s employees already get an Apple Watch as part of its corporate wellness program, but the insurer covers about 23 million people, and the two companies are reportedly discussing ways in which a free or discounted watch can be given to them as a perk.
Sources speaking with CNBC told the network the discussions had taken place in California late last week, and were attended by hospital chief medical information officers from around the country. The talks were supposedly led by Apple’s Myoung Cha; the move is apparently an effort by Aetna to increase consumer interest in healthier lifestyles and diets.
Aetna made a major push in this area several years ago with CarePass, which integrated a number of health and fitness apps and devices into a platform designed to help their customers and others maintain healthy lifestyles. But CarePass was abandoned after a few years, and Aetna has laid low in the digital health arena since then.
Health is now the primary use for the Apple Watch, and the wearable has recently overtaken the Fitbit as the nation’s top-selling health-centric wearable, shipping 22 million units in the first quarter of this year. The next version is reported to have wireless connectivity that doesn’t first need a synced iPhone.
One of CNBC’s sources said Aetna is pushing for the move to happen early next year.