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$25 Apple Watch comes with an important catch

Employees in a small number of companies in the US will soon get what sounds like a great deal. A $350 Apple Watch for just $25. The catch? You have to get in shape and stay in shape by meeting monthly fitness goals over a period of two years.

If you fail to do so, you will need to reimburse your company for the actual price of the Apple Watch. Payments will be done via montly installments of up to $13.50 each month in which you have not met your individualized fitness goal. This could be, for example, walking 10,000 steps a day or having a certain number of ‘active minutes’. If you meet all your monthly goals, the payments are reduced to zero.

Essential reading: Best fitness trackers and health gadgets you can buy today

The deal will be offered by health-services firm Vitality Group, to employees from several companies, as part of a wellness-incentive program aimed at encouraging workers to move more and be more active. The ultimate aim is to create a healthier workforce, which in turn reduces insurance premiums for employers.

“The program is rolling out this year to employees of biotech firm Amgen Inc., medical group DaVita HealthCare Partners Inc. and Lockton Cos., an insurance brokerage firm,” according to an article in the Wall Street Journal.

” Later this year, some life-insurance policyholders at John Hancock Financial will also be able to earn the Apple Watch, along with discounts on premiums, for meeting activity goals.”

The deal is part of a growing trend, sparked by reforms in the Affordable Care Act, of firms offering their employees heavy incentives to improve their health.

Carole Mendoza, executive director of benefits at Amgen, says its 10,000 US employees are eligible to join the Apple Watch program this summer.

“We saw this as an opportunity to really engage our staff,” says Ms. Mendoza. “There is a lot of buzz around the Apple Watch.”

There are other programs already out there. Fitbit has a broad range of programs encompassing some 1,000 corporate customers that provide trackers to their employees. This includes Target Corp. which offers free or discounted Fitbit trackers to its staff. The health insurer UnitedHealth Group, recently announced that it will provide its workers with a custom fitness tracker, allowing employees to earn up to $1,460 annually for meeting daily goals. Other programs for example, let you redeem points from fitness activities for gift cards and other rewards.

To learn more on what the business community thinks of wellness, Fitbit surveyed 200 CEOs across the US. Four our of five CEOs surveyed see corporate wellness as crucial in reducing workplace stress. It is estimated that around 80% of doctor’s visits are due to stress, and workplace stress contributes to at least 120,000 deaths each year in the US. Some 95% of CEOs said they would be willing to provide incentives to employees who wear fitness trackers.

In our view? We feel these are good arrangements if you are really serious about adopting a healthier lifestyle. We sincerely hope that other companies join in.

If people knew that leading healthier lives and exercising regularly will ultimately save them money, it may motivate them to change negative habits. Which, in the long run, will benefit them as well as their employers.

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