Millions of UnitedHealthcare members will soon get free access to Apple Fitness+, the insurer announced Thursday.
Starting November 1, fully insured members of UnitedHealthcare who already own an Apple Watch can sign up for a year-long subscription to the tech giant’s fitness platform at no additional cost. UnitedHealthcare estimates that 3 million of its members will be eligible for the program.
“Making Apple Fitness+ available to millions of UnitedHealthcare members is part of our broader effort to help people engage in their well-being and get and stay healthier,” Rebecca Madsen, chief consumer officer at UnitedHealthcare, said in a statement.
“One way to achieve these goals is to help people enhance their fitness, with many individuals turning to on-demand and digital resources to help get or stay motivated. We are pleased to be the first health insurance plan to provide this type of access to Apple Fitness+.”
Additionally, beginning next year, employers with self-funded health plans will be able to purchase an “Apple Fitness Bundle” that includes year-long subscriptions to Apple Fitness+ and a $25 Apple digital gift card.
WHAT’S THE IMPACT?
The Apple Fitness+ platform houses studio-style workouts that can be accessed with an iPhone, iPad or Apple TV. It offers 11 different workout styles from high-intensity interval training to yoga.
Members can view their workout metrics recorded by their Apple Watch to track progress and get personalized insights.
“We are very excited to work with UnitedHealthcare to bring this offer for Apple Fitness+ to millions of people who are looking to get and stay motivated to live a healthier lifestyle,” Jay Blahnik, senior director of Fitness Technologies at Apple, said in a statement.
“With our welcoming trainer team that leads a variety of workouts fueled by music that will keep you going from start to finish, the new guided meditations coming next week, and the metrics from your Apple Watch right on the screen, Fitness+ has many ways to keep you active no matter where you are on your fitness journey.”
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, fitness wearables were becoming a popular health tool for consumers, with roughly one in five U.S. adults saying they regularly wear a smartwatch or fitness tracker, according to a Pew Research Center survey from 2019.
But as the pandemic increased consumers’ awareness of their health, more people began adopting health-monitoring devices like fitness trackers and smartwatches. In fact, the fitness-tracker market grew by 19.5% in 2020, according to an article in Fortune Business Insights.
It predicts that the market will continue growing in the coming years, going from $36.34 billion in 2020 to $114.36 billion in 2028.
THE LARGER TREND
While the companies say this is the first example of Apple Fitness+ being offered as a health benefit, it’s not the first time UnitedHealthcare and Apple have teamed up.
In 2018, as a part of its Motion program, UnitedHealthcare began offering its members Apple Watches that could be paid for by meeting their fitness milestones. The program allows eligible participants to order and begin using the Apple Watch at no initial cost outside of tax and delivery, and then earn the device by meeting their daily goals. The Motion program also includes devices from Fitbit, Garmin and Samsung.
Aetna is another insurer that works with Apple, and in 2016 it began offering Apple Watches to some of its large employers and individual members at a reduced cost.
For its part, Apple has made a number of updates to its Fitness+ platform this year. In January, it launched “Time to Walk," which partners with influential speakers to create audio content for people to listen to as they walk.
Then in April Apple rolled out fitness programs specifically designed for pregnant people, older adults and beginners. Most recently, Apple rolled out features for cyclists, Pilates and group workouts and guided meditations.