A Swiss health insurer is testing fitness trackers that could penalize inactive people

This may cost you more than you thought — if you stay on the couch.
This may cost you more than you thought — if you stay on the couch.
Image: AP Photo/Richard Drew
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With healthcare costs rising across the developed world, many argue that the rise of wearable technology as a way to determine health insurance premiums is inevitable–and one company in Switzerland is putting the idea to the test.

CSS, one of the country’s biggest health insurers, launched a pilot project in July, in which the company tracks the movements of 2,000 volunteers on a daily basis using digital pedometers. The program “should reveal whether and how insurance companies can introduce an appropriate offer tailored to customers’ needs,” Volker Schmidt, the company’s head of technology, told The Local.

The other goals of the project are to determine whether people are willing to disclose their personal data, and whether the monitoring pushes them to achieve the goal of 10,000 steps a day.

Currently, the monitoring can only legally be used on supplementary insurance, but Schmidt would like to see it as a part of mandatory, basic coverage.

“Given the increased cost of healthcare, we will inevitably have to promote individual responsibility in order to strengthen solidarity between insured people,” Schmidt told the Swiss daily Blick. The newspaper says that in “plain language” that people who don’t wear the devices will have to pay higher premiums.

Some insurance companies (and many corporate wellness programs) already use wearable devices. Oscar, a American health insurance company targeted at millennials, offers $1 for each daily fitness goal reached, paid out in Amazon gift cards.