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Health Care & Insurance

How Using a Fitness Band Can Save You Money

Using a fitness band to monitor your activity could cut insurance costs.

Photo by Matthew Mahon/Redux

Earning a discount on your health or life insurance premiums may soon be as easy as putting one foot in front of the other. Some employers are handing out or subsidizing the cost of fitness bands and rewarding employees who meet goals for activity—such as averaging 10,000 steps a day—with insurance discounts, gift cards and other prizes.

The programs promise to benefit everyone. Employees walk their way to better health. Employers get active, more productive workers and may see lower health care costs. Insurers get healthier policyholders who make fewer claims. “Incentives line up so nicely for employees, employers and insurance companies that I can’t see this trend slowing down,” says Dan Ledger, a consultant with Endeavour Partners.

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Details vary, but most programs encourage participants to average a certain number of steps per day and usually require them to requalify each year. At Houston Methodist hospital, employees earn entries for prize drawings and are eligible to receive up to $520 off their 2016 health insurance premiums. “This program has helped motivate me,” says Vivian Robinson, who coordinates grants for the hospital and aims to take 10,000 steps a day.

Insurers are also getting in on the act. John Hancock has begun a program that rewards eligible policyholders with up to 15% off their life insurance premiums based on the number of steps they take and other healthy behaviors, such as getting an annual flu shot.

Many fitness bands also collect data such as your heart rate and sleep patterns. Before enrolling in a program, ask what type of data is collected and if you’re able to, say, report your step count but not your sleep habits.