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Apple in Discussions With Private Medicare Plans to Offer Apple Watch to Seniors

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Apple is in talks with at least three private Medicare plans in regards to subsidizing the Apple Watch for people over the age of 65. The news comes from a report today by CNBC, citing sources familiar with Apple's plans.


The discussions are centered around subsidizing the cost of an Apple Watch Series 3 or Series 4 -- which currently start at $279 for the Series 3 38mm Aluminum version -- for older Medicare users who can't afford the cost of the device. Series 4 models would be most beneficial for elderly users, thanks to the new fall detection and ECG features.

Apple's talks with the Medicare companies have not resulted in any official deals yet. The Cupertino company has paid visits to several large insurers in the market, as well as some smaller Medicare Advantage plans, but no specific names of the insurers were given.
"Avoiding one emergency room visit would more than pay for the device," said Bob Sheehy, CEO of Bright Health, an insurance start-up with a Medicare Advantage plan and the former CEO of United Healthcare.
Apple Watch has been associated with insurance coverage a few times in the past, including discounted versions of the wearable offered to Aetna insurance customers. Apple's device was also integrated into the United Healthcare wellness program, providing participants access to an Apple Watch that they could use to earn up to $1,000 in incentives per year by meeting daily walking goals.

Article Link: Apple in Discussions With Private Medicare Plans to Offer Apple Watch to Seniors
 
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yossi

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Nov 26, 2004
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The health benefits of this and future models of Apple Watch will be truly revolutionary. Detecting irregular heart rhythms at home months or years before it becomes a major health problem? Invaluable. Eventually they will add non invasive blood glucose level, which will take it to a whole new level.
 
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jicon

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Nov 29, 2004
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There's something wrong with the math in this article... >$249 to pop in to the emergency room? I suspect insurance companies would want to ask for data from the device to help adjust their plan premiums.
 
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ArtOfWarfare

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Nov 26, 2007
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It seems to me that people who are in their late 70s and older have difficulties keeping their hands steady, leading to difficulties using touchscreens... it's painful enough watching them struggle to use the keyboard on a 3.5" iPhone. I can only imagine the disaster that would be having them type in their PIN on a 38 mm Apple Watch.

Edit: Actually, I just remembered there’s an even more physically challenging part before that - actually putting it on. I’m perfectly able-bodied but it was initially taking ~5 minutes to put the watch on. It took a week before I could get it on in ~30 seconds.
 
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ryanwarsaw

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That is excellent news. That makes me want to buy some more AAPL and is the first really good news Apple have had in a long time.
[doublepost=1547653824][/doublepost]
There's something wrong with the math in this article... >$249 to pop in to the emergency room? I suspect insurance companies would want to ask for data from the device to help adjust their plan premiums.

Not sure if it is too far off. A planned visit to the local poor clinic here is like $79. Emergency rooms are much more expensive typically.
 
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jerryk

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How is that going to work with their flip phones? Or older gen Android phones (Galaxy S8, J7, etc.) which are what are part of those low costs $10-20/mo packages sold to seniors (see Consumer Cellular). Up to 50% of all Seniors don't have $400+ to spend on a phone.
[doublepost=1547654323][/doublepost]
That is excellent news. That makes me want to buy some more AAPL and is the first really good news Apple have had in a long time.
[doublepost=1547653824][/doublepost]

Not sure if it is too far off. A planned visit to the local poor clinic here is like $79. Emergency rooms are much more expensive typically.

Is the $79 the Medicare co-pay?
 
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ryanwarsaw

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How is that going to work with their flip phones? Or older gen Android phones (Galaxy S8, J7, etc.) which are what are part of those low costs $10-20/mo packages sold to seniors (see Consumer Cellular). Up to 50% of all Seniors don't have $400+ to spend on a phone.
[doublepost=1547654323][/doublepost]

Is the $79 the Medicare co-pay?

I paid cash so that is the price of a 10 minute visit to get your blood pressure checked.
 
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StyxMaker

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There's something wrong with the math in this article... >$249 to pop in to the emergency room? I suspect insurance companies would want to ask for data from the device to help adjust their plan premiums.

Apple is talking to Medicare HMO providers. They cannot adjust the plan premiums for individual patients. Their plan premium is adjusted annually based on their cost for providing services.
 
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jerryk

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Unfortunately the Apple Watch won't connect to a Jitterbug. Anecdotal but I see very few seniors with iPhones.

Agreed. We set up a relative's phone to have a few massive icons on the front screen. That is it. Things like "Home", "<her husbands name>, "doctor", "911", "<daughter's name>", "<son's name>", and "text". We use pictures of the person and bright icons so she never need to reads the text which requires putting on reading glasses. She can get to the regular icons with a swipe, but I don't think she ever uses them. This is on a Galaxy S8 from her local provider. Her plan runs $20/mo.
 
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fastlanephil

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Nov 17, 2007
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It seems to me that people who are in their late 70s and older have difficulties keeping their hands steady, leading to difficulties using touchscreens... it's painful enough watching them struggle to use the keyboard on a 3.5" iPhone. I can only imagine the disaster that would be having them type in their PIN on a 38 mm Apple Watch.

This sounds like a broad generalization. My mother has steady hands and still plays the piano. She’ll be 96 this month.
 
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StyxMaker

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Mar 14, 2010
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Inside my head.
How is that going to work with their flip phones? Or older gen Android phones (Galaxy S8, J7, etc.) which are what are part of those low costs $10-20/mo packages sold to seniors (see Consumer Cellular). Up to 50% of all Seniors don't have $400+ to spend on a phone.
[doublepost=1547654323][/doublepost]

Is the $79 the Medicare co-pay?

I’m on Kaiser Advantage Medicare HMO my copay for an emergency room visit is $100. That’s equivalent to five doctor office visits. They really don’t want people to ‘pop’ into the emergency room.
 
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truthertech

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Jun 24, 2016
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Unfortunately the Apple Watch won't connect to a Jitterbug. Anecdotal but I see very few seniors with iPhones.


That's why they don't make decisions based on your anecdotal observations. There are about 1.5 billion iOS devices in the world and surveys show around 10% of iPhone users are over 65.
 
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John Lobert

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Aug 28, 2017
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How is that going to work with their flip phones? Or older gen Android phones (Galaxy S8, J7, etc.) which are what are part of those low costs $10-20/mo packages sold to seniors (see Consumer Cellular). Up to 50% of all Seniors don't have $400+ to spend on a phone.
[doublepost=1547654323][/doublepost]

Is the $79 the Medicare co-pay?
 
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npmacuser5

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Apr 10, 2015
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It seems to me that people who are in their late 70s and older have difficulties keeping their hands steady, leading to difficulties using touchscreens... it's painful enough watching them struggle to use the keyboard on a 3.5" iPhone. I can only imagine the disaster that would be having them type in their PIN on a 38 mm Apple Watch.

You are missing the point. Not for those folks who have existing conditions that make the Watch not usable for them. For those who are still active, me at 71, to move more, record health related activities, and report the results to their medical teams so they can live better quality lives longer.

A bonus for the insurance companies, earlier detection, moving more a proven strategy for longer quality of life, and generally translates into reduced costs.

As the watch matures, a good chance more Seniors with existing conditions may well get the advantages of its benefits. Prevention and early detection so active Seniors stay that way, the current target audience.

To your point, not for every Senior.
 
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John Lobert

macrumors newbie
Aug 28, 2017
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North Carolina, USA
How is that going to work with their flip phones? Or older gen Android phones (Galaxy S8, J7, etc.) which are what are part of those low costs $10-20/mo packages sold to seniors (see Consumer Cellular). Up to 50% of all Seniors don't have $400+ to spend on a phone.
[doublepost=1547654323][/doublepost]

Is the $79 the Medicare co-pay?

Is this supposed to be a joke of some sort? I’m 74 and have owned almost every iPhone iteration since the first. Just because we’re old doesn’t mean we use Consumer Cellular or their flip phones.
 
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jerryk

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That's why they don't make decisions based on your anecdotal observations. There are about 1.5 billion iOS devices in the world and surveys show around 10% of iPhone users are over 65.


And how many of those are hand me down iPhone 3,4, and 5 that don't run IOS11 and above required for the Watch 4.
 
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lsutigerfan1976

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Sep 14, 2012
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I paid cash so that is the price of a 10 minute visit to get your blood pressure checked.
They screw seniors. No matter what. My mom has like a $200 copay for hospital if not admitted overnight. So you would think that the easier thing would be for her to see her Dr for something minor. But for her Dr, if she needs an appointment. They tell her it’ll be a month. And if she needs to be seen earlier. To go to the emergency room. I notice a lot of doctors are starting to treat elderly like this.
 
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jerryk

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Nov 3, 2011
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Is this supposed to be a joke of some sort? I’m 74 and have owned almost every iPhone iteration since the first. Just because we’re old doesn’t mean we use Consumer Cellular or their flip phones.

First, welcome to the forums and your first posts.

Second, Your not the norm. Most seniors cannot afford to upgrade their phones except for every 4 or 5 years. Look at the stats. Median incomes for people in your age group is in the $40K range. Buying a new $1000+ phone every year is not within their means. Paying for food, housing, and utilities are their top priorities. And the ones that need this device the most will be the ones with the most health issues, and largest health expenses with co-pays for doctors, prescriptions, etc. eating their funds.
 
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ryanwarsaw

macrumors 68030
Apr 7, 2007
2,729
2,424
They screw seniors. No matter what. My mom has like a $200 copay for hospital if not admitted overnight. So you would think that the easier thing would be for her to see her Dr for something minor. But for her Dr, if she needs an appointment. They tell her it’ll be a month. And if she needs to be seen earlier. To go to the emergency room. I notice a lot of doctors are starting to treat elderly like this.

I have been out of the USA for a long time and just moved back. What occurs to me is you need a referral for every single thing. In Thailand if I had an infection from a sore I could go to the local pharmacy and buy amoxicilin for about $3 for a course.

Here you have to go for the visit $79 and have insurance to cover way over inflated prescriptions if your insurance pays them. Quit the racket for a couple of pills that cost maybe 25 cents to make.
 
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jerryk

Contributor
Nov 3, 2011
6,541
3,474
SF Bay Area
I have been out of the USA for a long time and just moved back. What occurs to me is you need a referral for every single thing. In Thailand if I had an infection from a sore I could go to the local pharmacy and buy amoxicilin for about $3 for a course.

Here you have to go for the visit $79 and have insurance to cover way over inflated prescriptions if your insurance pays them. Quit the racket for a couple of pills that cost maybe 25 cents to make.

Yep. The US has a screwy health system.

I was running in Greece and had a hard spill. Nothing broken but I scraped the heck out of my side and leg. I went to a pharmacy to get some 4 inch bandages to cover up the area. The pharmacist sat me down at a little booth they had, got some antiseptic and cleaned my wounds. Then he put the appropriate sized bandages. When he was done, I paid 6 euros for the bandages. No charge for the rest of the service. I asked him if he was sure. He said yes, it is part of their service. And this was in the lowest income country in the EU with a failing economy!
 
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FlyBry

macrumors member
Jan 3, 2017
47
62
First, welcome to the forums and your first posts.

Second, Your not the norm. Most seniors cannot afford to upgrade their phones except for every 4 or 5 years. Look at the stats. Median incomes for people in your age group is in the $40K range. Buying a new $1000+ phone every year is not within their means. Paying for food, housing, and utilities are their top priorities. And the ones that need this device the most will be the ones with the most health issues, and largest health expenses with co-pays for doctors, prescriptions, etc. eating their funds.

I'm a senior with an iPhone 7 and a Series 4 cellular. From what I have observed in my area I am on the low end. Many seniors are sporting a iPhone X.
 
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blcamp

macrumors regular
May 16, 2012
200
387
Grand Rapids, MI, USA
Unfortunately the Apple Watch won't connect to a Jitterbug. Anecdotal but I see very few seniors with iPhones.

It’s definitely a generational thing. While many seniors I know barely use technology, I’m a 55yo software developer w/20yrs experience and an iPhone, iPad, Dell i7-based laptop and other Apple and Microsoft tech in the house and have a cellular Watch Series 3; if the FDA would ever approve some form of “medical device” status to the Series 4, I’d pull out my HSA card in a nanosecond.
 
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laz232

macrumors 6502a
Feb 4, 2016
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At a café near you
The health benefits of this and future models of Apple Watch will be truly revolutionary. Detecting irregular heart rhythms at home months or years before it becomes a major health problem? Invaluable. Eventually they will add non invasive blood glucose level, which will take it to a whole new level.

Taken as a statistical aggregate there is useful information for population studies - on an individual level there is much less actionable information and I believe the false positive rate will be quite high.

"“Avoiding one emergency room visit would more than pay for the device,” said Bob Sheehy, CEO of Bright Health, an insurance start-up with a Medicare Advantage plan and the former CEO of United Healthcare."

Hmm- I wonder how the false positive rates will eat into that C/B analysis...
[doublepost=1547658978][/doublepost]
Yep. The US has a screwy health system.

I was running in Greece and had a hard spill. Nothing broken but I scraped the heck out of my side and leg. I went to a pharmacy to get some 4 inch bandages to cover up the area. The pharmacist sat me down at a little booth they had, got some antiseptic and cleaned my wounds. Then he put the appropriate sized bandages. When he was done, I paid 6 euros for the bandages. No charge for the rest of the service. I asked him if he was sure. He said yes, it is part of their service. And this was in the lowest income country in the EU with a failing economy!

But with budget cuts let's see how long that lasts... I'm all for government healthcare (even though I have to wait 4-6 weeks to see my GP in my country), but it's not sustainable without a reasonable level of economic growth.
 
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