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Aetna to subsidize cost of Apple Watch for employers

To help consumers foot the remaining bill, Aetna said it is offering monthly payroll deductions.

Susan Morse, Senior Editor

Aetna has stepped up its wellness initiatives by offering to subsidize a portion of the cost of the Apple Watch to select large employers and individual customers during this fall's open enrollment season.

The major insurer will also offer integrated health apps for the watch, iPads and iPhones that include care management and wellness, with user-driven support from nurses and people with similar conditions.

The health apps among the first designed for multi-device use and were made possible with support from Apple.

[Also: Value-based pay, wellness, retail clinics among 5 top forces reshaping healthcare]

"We are thrilled that Aetna will be helping their members and employees take greater control of their health using Apple Watch," Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement.

Aetna did not say how much of the cost of the Apple Watch it would subsidize. Most models range from $270 to $750. To help consumers foot the remaining bill, Aetna said it is offering monthly payroll deductions.

In addition, Aetna is giving the Apple Watch at no cost to its nearly 50,000 employees.

Aetna said the new initiative combines the power of iOS apps and Apple user experience, with its analytics-based wellness and care management programs.

[Also: Apple unveils CareKit health tracking platform, first app is for Parkinson's]

The apps will offer medication adherence, a feature to not only remind wearers to take their medications, but to easily order refills and connect with their doctors if they need a different treatment.

The watch will be integrated with Apple Wallet, allowing consumers to check their deductible and pay a bill.

Other features are a personalized health plan, messaging and decision support.

"We are incredibly excited to use iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch to create simple, intuitive and personalized technology solutions that will transform the health and wellness experience for our members," said Aetna Chairman and CEO Mark Bertolini. "This is only the beginning – we look forward to using these tools to improve health outcomes and help more people achieve more healthy days."

Twitter: @SusanJMorse