Apple and Aetna have reportedly been discussing a partnership to bring the Apple Watch to the insurance company's 23 million members.
Aetna already teamed up with Apple in the past to provide each of its 50,000 employees with a free Apple Watch as part of the company's wellness program. It was also reported that Aetna was looking to subsidize the cost of the health-focused smartwatch for its customers, a plan that is apparently moving full speed ahead.
Apple And Aetna Partnership
According to CNBC's sources, a series of invitation-only meetings for Apple and Aetna executives were held last week. The meetings also included chief medical information officers from different hospitals across the country.
One of the sources said that Myoung Cha, who carries the title of Special Projects, Health in Apple, served as the leader of the discussions.
Aetna is negotiating with Apple on the plan to offer discounted, and possibly even free, Apple Watches to its customers. If the plan pushes through, Aetna may start offering the Apple Watch subsidies to its members starting as early as next year.
Apple and Aetna both declined to comment on the report, but an anonymous source within Apple who is not authorized to speak in behalf of the company confirmed that there were indeed meetings that took place between Apple and Aetna. There were no comments or confirmations, however, regarding the possibility of giving Aetna customers Apple Watch discounts.
"This is a logical step for Apple's broader distribution of their watch, and this type of partnership has been on their radar from the beginning," said technology advisory firm Creative Strategies' president Tim Bajarin.
Apple Watch Shifts Focus To Health
The meetings between Apple and Aetna come as the focus of the Apple Watch is being shifted to health and wellness.
A report from May revealed that Apple CEO Tim Cook lost 30 pounds, and he partly attributed the weight loss to the functions of the Apple Watch. Cook followed a strict fitness schedule that involved waking up very early each day to hit the gym, but he said that the Apple Watch and its health-related features certainly helped him. Later that month, Cook was spotted wearing a prototype device that worked in tandem with the Apple Watch to track his blood sugar levels.
Rumors claim that the next Apple Watch will be revamped just like the iPhone 8, with built-in LTE capabilities and an all-new form factor. With Cook's usage of the smartwatch and the pending partnership with Aetna, it appears that the Apple Watch 2 will have an even bigger focus on health and wellness as well.