Healthcare company Aetna shared today that it is partnering with Apple on a new health and fitness initiative for its employees and customers using the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch starting in 2017. Aetna will be providing its 50,000 employees with Apple Watches at no cost and subsidizing the cost for large employers and individual customers through a new healthy living initiative.

Beginning this fall, Aetna will make Apple Watch available to select large employers and individual customers during open enrollment season, and Aetna will be the first major health care company to subsidize a significant portion of the Apple Watch cost, offering monthly payroll deductions to make covering the remaining cost easier.

In addition to the customer program, Aetna will provide Apple Watch at no cost to its own nearly 50,000 employees, who will participate in the company’s wellness reimbursement program, to encourage them to live more productive, healthy lives.

Aetna also says it is developing software for its initiative with the help of Apple that will work across the Apple Watch, iPhone, and iPad to encourage and reward healthy living for its workforce. The company outlined four areas of focus for the initiative which is rather impressive:

  • Care management and wellness, to help guide consumers through health events like a new diagnosis or prescription medication with user-driven support from nurses and people with similar conditions.
  • Medication adherence, to help consumers remember to take their medications, easily order refills and connect with their doctor if they need a different treatment through their Apple Watch or iPhone.
  • Integration with Apple Wallet, allowing consumers to check their deductible and pay a bill.
  • Personalized health plan on-boarding, information, messaging and decision support to help Aetna members understand and make the most of their benefits.

Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke positively about the effort:

“We are thrilled that Aetna will be helping their members and employees take greater control of their health using Apple Watch,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “Aetna’s new initiatives will be a powerful force toward creating better customer experiences in health care, and we look forward to working with Aetna to make them successful.”

The effort between Aetna and Apple follows the recent debut of the second generation of Apple Watch with the faster Series 1 models and more capable Series 2 models. Apple Watch Series 1 features the same design and features as the original Apple Watch and includes a dual-core processor to make it overall snappier. Apple Watch Series 2 (review) also features the faster dual-core processor as well as swimproof water resistance, swim tracking, GPS, and a brighter display.

[Update: We’ve heard a few more details about Aetna’s Apple Watch program on background since publishing. It sounds like Aetna employees will receive $130 toward the cost of the Apple Watch, plus up to $200/year through Aetna’s wellness reimbursement program for personal expenses like gym memberships and fitness tracker purchases.

This brings the total to $330 in a given year which means that it likely isn’t as simple as picking your preferred model and receiving it for free. In other words, it doesn’t sound like Aetna is buying a ton of Apple Watches and distributing them to interested employees. Apple Watch Series 1 retails from $269 while the more capable Apple Watch Series 2 retails from $369.]

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About the Author

Zac Hall

Zac covers Apple news, hosts the 9to5Mac Happy Hour podcast, and created