Private health insurance companies have started offering rebates to Swiss clients who are willing to share physical activity data through wearable health-monitoring devices.
Strict data protection laws in Switzerland have not dissuaded the first pioneers from testing the waters on participatory health data sharing. Currently, two companies – CSS and Swica – offer Swiss consumers the chance to lower their health insurance premiums by attaining physical activity goals monitored by wearable devices.
CSS was the first to introduce the option from July 1 through its myStep plan that offers its clients CHF0.40 ($0.40) for each day they manage to walk a minimum of 10,000 steps.
“So far, around 2,800 of our existing clients have signed up for it. We consider it a success given the outcome in such a short period,” CSS spokesperson Nina Mayer told swissinfo.ch.
Swica’s Benevita plan offers premium reduction to clients who connect their smartphones or wearable devices to its online platform and achieve certain fitness goals. It has entered into a partnership with Swiss telecoms giant Swisscom to support the technology behind the offer.
“With increased digitalisation it is inevitable that there will be changes, for example like the introduction of driver recorders [blackboxes] in cars a few years ago,” says Sabine Alder of the Swiss Insurance Association.
While the “solidarity principle” prevents those offering obligatory health insurance from offering rebates in exchange for health data, Swiss laws do not stop private companies from extending such options to those opting for complementary insurance packages.
However, it does raise the question of invasion of privacy, as many of these wearable devices also capture information like heart rate, blood pressure and sleep patterns.
“Swiss consumers already share personal data with firms like Google and Apple. They are more protected when dealing with Swiss insurance companies who are subject to Swiss privacy laws,” says Christophe Kaempf of the medical insurers association Santésuisse.
The Swiss law on data protection is due for revision this autumn and it remains to be seen if the changes will make it more difficult for insurers to offer such rebates.