Oscar, a health insurance provider based in New York, plans to offer every single one of its subscribers a free Misfit Flash, a $50 fitness tracker. If Oscar customers hit their personalized step goals, Oscar will give them $1 in Amazon credit per day, up to $240 per year.
Here’s how it will work: The first time a new customer boots up the Oscar Health app, the app will offer one Oscar-branded Misfit Flash for each person covered under the plan, and will send them to the address on file for free.
The [company]Misfit[/company] Flash syncs with the Oscar Health iOS app to track steps. When you hit your goal — the first day’s step goal will be around a very achievable 2,000 steps — the app records it. When you get to 20 days meeting your goal, you can cash out your credit in the form of an Amazon gift card. Oscar will have an Android version of its app by the end of the year.
“The app will set a goal for you, a new goal every day. You will start off with a low goal of steps, about 2000 or so per day, the intention is to get you to a level where medical professionals think it will have a real impact on your health,” Oscar CEO Mario Schlosser said. “That’s around 7000, 8000, up to 10,000 steps per day.”
It’s a good fit for Oscar, which is a smaller, regional insurance provider currently available in parts of New York and New Jersey. Unusually for a health insurance provider, it’s a startup. Oscar raised an $80 million Series A round led by Breyer Capital and Founders Fund earlier this year that apparently valued the company at around $800 million.
Oscar’s app already has features like cost estimates and a button to talk with a doctor who is able to prescribe medicine over the phone. Adding fitness tracking to the app is another step to making a health insurance app that users interact with daily.
The Misfit trackers provided by [company]Oscar[/company] will be Oscar-branded, but they can work with the main Misfit app as well, especially for metrics like sleep tracking, which the Oscar app doesn’t support yet. In fact, Misfit’s various APIs — which allow Oscar to sync the Flash to its own app — is a major reason that Oscar decided to do this program with Misfit trackers, instead of competing fitness trackers made by companies like Fitbit or Jawbone.
“The biggest point for us was the seamless connectivity, Misfit was the easiest device to build the connectivity with the Oscar app too, where the band syncs directly with the Oscar app and doesn’t go to another app,” Schlosser said.
One fear about integrating metrics from fitness trackers into the American health insurance system is that poor performance — say, you don’t really walk that much — could eventually lead to higher premiums. That’s not the case with Oscar’s program. Oscar calls its program “over-the-top,” or a bonus program, and it’s important to note that Amazon gift cards are not lower premiums.
Oscar will also be very careful with the data to make sure it’s not used for determining the validity of claims.
“If [fitness tracking] leads to lower healthcare costs, because people get healthier, and caregivers can see more information about you, healthcare costs overall could go down and that’s a good thing,” Schlosser said. “We are very careful to never use [Misfit health tracking] information internally in any process around determining clinical necessity for certain procedures or authorizing procedures. We can share it back with your doctor as well, but it won’t ever enter the claims process, and I don’t think it ever really should.”
Ultimately, when people are deciding which insurance plan to pick up on an Obamacare exchange, Oscar hopes its tech bonafides — including rewards pegged to fitness trackers — are a reason to pick it over other providers.
“In the exchanges, the plan designs are pretty standard, so everyone tends to be in the same range. What’s much more important — a huge generational shift that’s super important — is the insurance company does a good job in providing a good product to the member,” Schlosser said. “That just wasn’t required before.”