Insurance company offers policy that rewards activity

Manulife, a Canadian insurance company, will launch a new insurance program that rewards healthy activities like physical exercise, flu shots and visits to the doctor.

Policy holders would connect a fitness tracker like Fitbit to Manulife’s data gathering system, supplying the insurance company with real-life data on their physical activities. Manulife would provide other means to supply data that would not include a fitness tracker. For example, by providing a self-reported visit to a doctor. By completing these and other health activities, enrolled members would earn points that could be used to claim other rewards offered by Manulife and participating retailers.

For some people, this will be a welcomed incentive to stay healthy. But what if your activity levels decrease or fluctuate? How would this affect your premium? Would you be denied coverage or asked to pay additional fees if you are deemed unhealthy? It will be interesting to see how Manulife will define healthy living.

The program also raises privacy concerns. Should people trust an insurance company with this kind of personal data? Dr. Avner Levin, professor at the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University in Toronto, points to the problematic nature of insurance companies collecting personal data for commercial use.

“It’s a bit like mission creep,” he said in a CBC news story. “You put a GPS box in a car [for safety reasons] to track where vehicles are, but then you end up berating an employee for taking too long on their break to get coffee.”

Do you think this is a good method of encouraging people to lead active lives? Do you have concerns about how this would affect health care delivery in countries like the United States?

We want to hear your thoughts! Let us know what you think in the comments section below.