Chances are you are reading this on a computer. Exactly what kind of computer you are reading this on has drastically changed over the years. Originally you would have only been able to read this on a desktop computer, then along came laptops, then the life-changing smartphone that has allowed tablets to emerge. Much like that technology has changed for our productivity and internet accessibility, so too has technology changed for the medical field - what a perfect time to touch on some technology aspects that relate to your health (and in a roundabout way - your health insurance
). For those who are not familiar with this 'technology time of year' September has grown into a month that tech junkies look forward to year after year. Every year in September tech giant Apple releases information on it's newest slew of tech, and year after year they headline it with a new phone
and a new operating system
. This year they also released their latest iteration (or series) of their wearable tech line - the Apple Watch. The Apple Watch has been thought of as a premier fitness tool
for its users with the ability to track fitness goals and values.Wearable technology has become all the craze in recent years. I have personally seen people undergo vast changes of mindset around wearable tech, from not wanting anything to do with it to being its largest supporter. There is lots of apprehension with many individuals surrounding wearable technology, specifically smart watches. Objections such as price, need, and purpose are first and foremost. There are many uses for wearable technology that have great impacts on productivity and health, some of this tech extends even further than a watch!
Smart watches, as mentioned in the paragraph above, are the craze of today's generation. Companies like Apple, Samsung and FitBit all have lines of smart watches that provide various functions. Fitness tracking is a key feature that many individuals desire and specifically seek out in a Smart Watch. While companies like FitBit focus intently on the fitness tracking aspect of Smart Watches (while also offering higher end, more comprehensive models as well) some competitors take Smart Watches to a level that is much like a Smartphone. Apple Watch has a slew of features such as controlling music, accessing calendars/reminders, searching the internet, phone calls, text messaging, voice AI technology, and much more. Apple really was shooting in the luxury category essentially creating a 'Smartphone on your wrist'. FitBit really stands true to the fitness tracking technology. FitBit provides a dashboard that allows for its users to track food and water intake in addition to exercise - making it it a nice tool for the fitness junkie.
These are a relatively new phenomena in the world of technology. The basis behind what is done with these chip implants are they are implanted into your hand (most likely in the tissue between your thumb and index finger) then the chip allows for health monitoring among other features as well. Hypothetical features such as mobile payments, admission tickets to sporting events, and even unlocking your house or car would all be possible with the swipe of a hand. This technology has been in the news recently as being mandated to take place within the wording of the PPACA (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act/ObamaCare) and this is not true. The only CHIP reference in the PPACA is in reference to the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). This technology, in theory, is the same as your applewatch, but concealed within your hand allowing for higher security of your information - when is the last time you lost your hand in comparison to losing your smartphone? the decision is still to be had on these implants and if there will be widespread implementation of them, though there are sure to be individuals first in line to receive them.
How Does This Effect Health Insurance?
These technologies have huge potential for changing the map on health insurance products. There are rumblings of health insurers wanting to use the technology to monitor health factors. Imagine if a health insurer could monitor your health using a smart watch/chip implant and be able to send you a notification that you might be at risk for a health factor and to seek medical advice. Medical catastrophes such as a heart attack would see huge benefits for those individuals by employing this type of monitoring. If a health insurer can offer this type of monitoring to its members it is reasonable to believe that they could then be able to apply some type of underwriting factor to individuals who utilize the technology. For healthier individuals the company would see that the technology is reporting that they are healthy and they could pass some savings in premium along to the member. Conversely if the company sees that there is high risk for health claims they may decide to increase the members premium.
Bottom line on all of this is technology is a game changer for the world we live in, and it is coming for the health insurance world. Here at Lerner, Csernai & Fath we keep as up to date as possible on what companies are doing and offering to their members so you can be sure to count on us as a resource should companies begin to move in this direction.
Derek A. Lodholtz, Benefits Specialist
Lerner, Csernai & Fath Financial Group
15505 Waldron Way
Big Rapids, Mi 49307
The above content is meant to inform and does not convey the opinion of the author (Derek Lodholtz) or the Firm (Lerner, Csernai & Fath Financial Group).