“Health insurance is the only industry that doesn’t have a causal linkage to rates. In auto you pay more when you have accidents. This is the first time we’re doing this in health,” Virgin Healthmiles, CEO, Sean Forbes told ZDNet in a recent interview.
By using blood pressure monitors, pedometers and other devices, Virgin Healthmiles measures compliance closely and discounts are tweaked based on users' actual participation. According to Forbes, companies that have offered the program to employees have managed to get as many as 40 percent of their employees to participate.
“They give people doing the right things 10 to 20 percent cuts in their next year premium, and layer on a corresponding increase in the portion of the population not doing the right thing. That allows them to do this on a cost neutral basis. It also allows them to create a causal link to the pricing of coverage,” Forbes said.
While Virgin may have its own unique approach, others are taking notice of the opportunity for employer adoption of wellness-related connected health devices.
For example, some mobile health startups are beginning to view employers as a potential answer to that pesky question: Who Pays? Partners Healthcare spinoff, Healthrageous (nee HopSkipConnect), came out of stealth mode this week flush with $6 million in venture capital and an impressive group of founding executives from both the telecom and healthcare industries.
The advent of Healthrageous points to what I expect will be a trend of mobile health companies increasingly targeting the enterprise, especially self-insured employers, with connected health services.