Goodbye Nike+, Hello Jawbone UP + Strava- and the Future of Health Insurance in America

I had a Nike+ Watch with Tom Tom GPS but it failed me. So I got a Jawbone UP bracelet to connect with my Strava account and give me the flexibility to include cycling as activity that gathers my biometric data. Then I found out that my parents health insurance company was giving health credits on monthly premiums to everyone in the health plan that voluntarily submits their wearable biometric data to the health insurance plan administrator along with keeping health goals. The future of health insurance is here, and it may mean less freedom for Freedom loving Americans.

Hate to be moving on, but after two years my Nike+ watch, which retails for a ridiculous $200, has hit the fan. The band on the watch has rendered it unfit to wear, and the Nike pod, well I went through two of those in the past year and they retail for $20 bucks each as well. For someone who is brand loyal to Adidas, this was one of my major Nike purchases in the past decade. In fact, I don’t own any Nike apparel or product, besides this watch (read more here, and here).

I am sad, the Nike+ watch always got people asking me where I got it from and who made it. Its a nicely designed functional watch with the added benefit of the GPS feature when it came to running and trail hiking. However, for a watch that retails for two Benji’s you would think that it would come integrated with the Nike Fuel band features, it does not. That was initially not a problem but over time as I have been running, now cycling, and doing plyometrics, its become less trivial and more expedient means of tracking performance.

In the shade of these developments I opted to purchase the Jawbone UP, except the one I ended up getting doesn’t have a heart monitor. I chose not to buy the Nike Fuel band largely because of what I consider shoddy silicon-plastic material that makes up it bands. Worse there is no clear way to get replacements! When it comes to wearable tech there is a competitive market of new and old players- Nike with its Nike+ watch and Fuel Bands, FitBit, Garmin VivoFit, Adidas entered the market with its new watch called MiCoach harkening back to analog digital design fused with Apple modern sleek look. Its a ridiculously competitive market, and I am not sure that one particular player has gotten 10% advantage ahead of the rat pack, its like pre-iPod where the MP3 player market was ripe for “disruption” and on cue Apple is entering the market with its iWatch in 2015.

In fact, the next stage is to integrate this health monitoring technology into the very fabric of the clothes we wear. Its part of the Big Data revolution. Soon our physical world will be integrated with the technology that gathers and gives us a new layer of data that blankets our reality, shapes our perceptions and challenges our very notions of the physical world. Then again these notions are often times wrong, perceptions are a funny thing, but data, data is neither right nor wrong just fact. When this transition takes root, its going to change everything, and in the field of healthcare it is going to fundamentally alter what we have long perceived as American freedoms. Like recently, my parents healthcare plan began soliciting voluntary enrollment where they give credits to individuals within the plan that not only work out but they submit their health information which is collected by these health bands.

One of the inadvertent consequence this might have on America has to do with our perception of freedom. This means Americans will have less freedoms in the future. In the past healthcare debate we heard a lot about how government not doctors will dictate the sort of care Granny will receive, in the future it will be the health care insurance industry that dictates what you should be eating or not eating. The way I see it, very soon the freedom to behave and act the way you want in America, when it comes to an individuals health choices, will be dictated with market variables; if you want to be a couch potato and eat whatever you want, you will pay higher healthcare insurance premiums. So the freedom to eat and do with your health as you choose, will be contingent upon you having the money. But thats a market solution, so in a capitalist system this would be the ideal way to regulate peoples health habits? Not sure how the international fat food conglomerates will take to the insurance companies dictating their bottom lines, but with my parents voluntary buy in, I only foresee further similar plans leaning toward mandatory penalties.

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