Life insurer John Hancock has unveiled a new wearable program dubbed Aspire aimed at helping its members with diabetes manage the condition. The program was born out of a partnership with Verily and digital diabetes care platform Onduo.
Users of the new platform can access diabetes coaching via Onduo’s virtual clinic. The program also has fiscal rewards. According to the company, members using the service can save up to 25% on their annual insurance premiums through healthier behaviors and life styles. Participants in the program will get rewards for maintaining a healthy A1c level or by making progress toward their target A1c level.
Like all John Hancock members, individuals in the program will have access to Vitality, a behavior change rewards platform that is combined with a wearable. Last fall, the insurer announced that it would be giving all of its members access to the service. The idea behind Vitality was to incentivize policy holders to become more active and make healthier nutrition decisions.
Lindsay Hanson, head of partnerships and innovation at John Hancock, said the company’s experience with the Vitality program helped hatch the idea for the full Aspire program, which will run with Vitality.
“We believe that we can achieve great outcomes for our customers by offering more personalized experiences,” she told MobiHealthNews in an email. “At the same time, we began to understand the extent to which the life insurance industry has historically under-served people living with diabetes. In fact, of the over 30 million American living with diabetes, half don’t believe they can quality for life insurance. Furthermore, nearly half believe that if they could qualify, it would be too expensive. Around the same time, we got to know the great work that Verily and Onduo are doing and formed our partnership to bring to market the first and only life insurance designed to serve the needs of people living with diabetes.”
The service will be open to every John Hancock member living with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. While the service will track health, after a new customer’s underwriting class is determined during the purchase process, that class will not be changed, according to Hanson.
While the company didn’t specify if it was developing new tools for other conditions, Hanson said the trend is toward personalized care.
“It’s part of a larger trend of healthcare and business leaders finding ways to empower Americans to better manage their own health, in a way that best works for them — moving from reactive and passive to actively engaging in our health and wellbeing,” she said.
WHY IT MATTERS
The diabetes rate is rapidly increasing in the U.S., doubling in the last 20 years, according to the CDC. Currently, around 30 million Americans have the condition, according to the organization. The condition is associated with kidney failure, lower-limb amputations and adult blindness. However, life style changes, such as improving diet and exercise, can manage the condition.
THE LARGER TREND
John Hancock has been interested in the digital health space for some time. Vitality was first launched more than four years ago. Last fall, the company made the program aviliable for all of its members.
But this isn’t the only life insurer interested in employing digital tools. A little over a year ago Cardiogram, a smartwatch app that uses a deep neural network technology to detect hypertension and sleep apnea, made news in September when it announced that it was teaming up with life insurer Amica Life and Greenhouse Life Insurance to offer users $1,000 in accidental death insurance for free. As part of the deal, the insurers get a chance to look at users' data.
ON THE RECORD
“We think it’s very logical that the life insurance industry would work to serve the unique needs of people living with chronic conditions and try to help and improve health outcomes in the US overall,” Hanson said. “We believe strongly that life insurance companies should care a great deal about their customers living longer, and healthier lives and we’re proud to be taking meaningful steps to help achieve those outcomes.”