Fitness Data

Jogging with Big Brother

medical data app joggers source DAVIDS
You can't outrun the insurance company.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    • Some say increasing digitalization in the health industry could lead to consumers feeling compelled to hand over data.
    •  
    •  
  • Facts

    Facts

    • The insurance company’s Vitality health app is scheduled to hit the market in 2016.
    • The company claims it will be a motivational tool for users.
    • Other big insurers, including Axa, Ergo and Allianz, are not thought to be planning similar health apps.
  • Audio

    Audio

  • Pdf

The ‘Vitality’ health app from Generali insurance hasn’t hit the market yet, but is already causing a storm.

The program is based on rewarding healthy behavior, explained a spokeswoman for the Italy-based global insurer. “People who use the app want to improve their health and can motivate themselves through bonuses and benefits,” she said.

The insurance company is working on the assumption that a fifth of the population is interested in this sort of product and that the market is growing all the time.

The app is due out in early 2016, and it is not clear yet what type of data it will collect. But already critics are raising their voices, including in Berlin where the Ministry for Justice and Consumer Protection is alarmed. Officials worry that such innovations in the insurance industry could lead to ascribing health risks to individuals.

“We are examining quite critically whether there are elements that could ultimately lead to an erosion of solidarity in society, which is something we don’t want,” said Gerd Billen, a consumer advocate and state secretary in the ministry.

“Does someone who jogs from morning to evening, and makes his data available to the insurance company, get more favorable rates?” he asked.

This is the first time a member of the government has taken such a clear, public stance on the health app debate.

Want to keep reading?

Subscribe now or log in to read our coverage of Europe’s leading economy.