Michael Thomsen ,
Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.
CSS wants people to walk more. In July, the Swiss health insurance company launched a pilot program with 2,000 volunteers to collect data on how far each person walks in an average day, according to Swiss news site The Local. Using fitness trackers connected to the company’s private network, the company says it wants to use the gathered data to make special offers “tailored” to individuals.
Though it’s currently illegal to make insurance holders wear tracking devices in Switzerland, CSS is testing how much personal information it can get voluntarily through its supplemental insurance holders. After several months, CSS claims the results have been “very positive,” opening the door to expanding the program.
“Given the increased cost of healthcare,” Volker Schmidt, head of technology for CSS, told Swiss newspaper Blick, “we will inevitably have to promote individual responsibility in order to strengthen solidarity between insured people.“ This could potentially lay the groundwork for charging higher premiums for those those who don’t want to wear trackers or whose activity levels fall below certain benchmarks.
Using the rising cost of healthcare as an impending crisis that necessitates more surveillance has been a common tactic for many healthcare providers and insurance companies. “Digital takes 90% of the cost out and adds 90% more efficiency,” Leslie Saxon of the USC Center for Body Computing told me last year, arguing that data from healthcare tracking should be completely public on everything from Facebook FB +0.00% to Instagram. Using a mixture of social pressure and the constant connection of mobile phones, individuals could be encouraged to take up more healthy habits, making them feel like ”the heroes of their healthcare stories.”
This could also make people who wear fitness trackers feel like heroes of insurance finance. According The Local, obesity alone costs the Swiss healthcare industry 8 billion francs a year, or a little more than $8 billion.