Science & Medicine, Technology

Aetna to Launch CarePass APP to “Monitor” and “Encourage” Customers Behavior

This week Aetna will launch a smartphone App called CarePass.  CarePass will provide Aetna Inc. with health-tracking data that would allow them to “monitor customers and encourage healthy behavior”.  Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s magazine MIT Technology Review released a report titled “App Will Let Health Insurer Track Customer Behavior”.  The report said that “A smartphone app that launches this week gives the health insurance company Aetna access to detailed user health-tracking data.”    The announcement was made last week by Martha Wofford, a consumer platform vice president at a MIT Technology Reviews Mobile Summit in San Francisco.  Major Insurance companies will eventually adopt the same technology that will be considered intrusive corporate control over people’s healthcare. The report explained in detail what CarePass would provide to both Aetna and its customers:

Through CarePass, a person could enter a health goal—say, fitting into his jeans next month—and get personalized suggestions for how to go about achieving it. CarePass can integrate data from wearable tracking devices like Fitbit or Jawbone’s UP, as well as apps like MapMyRun; it can take into account doctor visits, prescriptions, and blood pressure or cholesterol records. It will also point users to trustworthy symptom and diagnosis information through iTriage, software that Aetna acquired last year.      

CarePass can integrate the ‘Fitbit Tracker’ for example, a wireless device that measures personal data from how many steps you take to how far you can run to measuring your sleep patterns. What is more disturbing about the App is that it can share your information.   

A few other health-care providers, such as Kaiser Permanente, are getting into this area, but Aetna appears to be pushing forward more quickly than most. CarePass, for example, will include APIs so that patients can give access to their data to third parties, including doctors or other software developers, Wofford says.

Third parties can include the US government and other major corporations.  Under Obamacare, behavior-based incentives would also allow employers to increase “Wellness Incentives”:

President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, Wofford says, allows insurers to increase so-called “wellness incentives” to up to 30 percent of a premium, up from 20 percent before. This would allow employer health plans to create bigger “carrots” for their employees to go to the gym or use a Fitbit. Under U.S. law, incentives have to be based on behaviors—say, joining a gym—rather than outcomes, such as losing 10 pounds versus two pounds, Wofford says. The same rules do not apply in Europe.

CarePass will be offered to individuals at first, but Aetna plans to launch a portal for employers, too. There they will receive anonymous and aggregated data about the overall health trends of their employees, Wofford says.

Employers will make cost-cutting decisions over their employee’s healthcare costs.  Small companies and family-owned businesses would have to lay-off workers because healthcare costs would be too expensive to maintain their labor force.  In an interesting article written by Peter Ferrara of Forbes magazine called ‘Look Out Below, The Obamacare Chaos is Coming’ wrote:

The Obamacare employer mandate requires all employers of 50 or more full time workers to purchase the expensive insurance for those employees that Kathleen Sebelius (“The Secretary shall determine”) specifies that they must buy.  But that mandate is enforced by a penalty of $2,000 per worker, which may be only 10% of the average cost of family coverage under the Sebelius requirements  

It would force corporations and small businesses to terminate employees based on health issues.  If employees do not meet the requirements to stay healthy, then healthcare costs would become expensive for the employer because of the high premium rates and other added costs.

As health-care costs increase for employers as well, they are likely to become more aggressive in looking for ways to reduce costs. “I think it will be led by employers,” says Wofford. “We see some more aggressive employers like Safeway, where they are driving outcomes by swabbing the cheeks of employees to see whether they are smoking or not.” U.S. law says that smokers can be charged higher premiums.

Aetna’s CarePass is an intrusive App that would allow major insurance companies, corporations and governments to have more control over the people.  Not only will major insurance companies and the US government decide what you should do with your own body, the unemployment rate will increase even further as employers will begin to lay-off employees due to expensive healthcare costs that will further destroy what’s left of the US economy.  Aetna’s decision to launch the CarePass App is a step towards to what American President Thomas Jefferson once said, and that is “If people let the government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as the souls who live under tyranny.”   With Obamacare and major insurance companies in control of the US healthcare system and the problems it will have in the foreseeable future, Jefferson’s warning is becoming a reality.

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