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Life Insurer John Hancock Partners with Diabetes Tracker. But What About the Data?


Customers with diabetes will gain access to a digital management platform, but the insurer says the arrangement isn’t about data aggregation.

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The life insurance company John Hancock is partnering with the developer of a diabetes monitoring platform, in hopes of helping enrollees better manage their condition.

The partnership represents a merging of data analytics, healthcare and life insurance, raising questions about the use of the data on the business side. But John Hancock says it won’t have access to data generated by the diabetes management software.

>> READ: Unnecessary Testing Proves Costly for Patients with Type 2 Diabetes

John Hancock struck the deal with One Drop, the maker of a smartphone-optimized diabetes management platform, to offer the One Drop platform to life insurance customers who belong to the John Hancock Vitality program.

Customers who join Vitality can earn points for engaging in healthy behavior like exercising, meditating or getting a check-up at the doctor’s office. Those points can then be redeemed for benefits like lower premiums and discounts on wearable technology.

Brooks Tingle, president and CEO of John Hancock Insurance, said the deal makes good business sense because both One Drop and John Hancock have an interest in seeing customers live long, healthy lives.

“Our partnership with One Drop is rooted in this commitment and has the potential to truly impact the health and financial wellness of people living with diabetes or prediabetes in a positive way by providing them with access to the best technology, education and tools available, while helping provide financial protection for their families,” Tingle said in a press release.

The arrangement also has the potential to generate considerable data about patients with diabetes who purchase life insurance — data that could be used to inform future underwriting decisions. However, in a statement to this publication, John Hancock said it will not do that. The company said patients will have control over how much data — if any — they share, and John Hancock will not have access to One Drop data from customers who use the app.

John Hancock customers with diabetes are not required to use One Drop, and they won’t be penalized for not using the tech.

The One Drop system includes a Bluetooth-enabled blood glucose monitor, related supplies and coaching through a mobile app. The system works with smartphones and the Apple Watch. (John Hancock currently has a promotion whereby Vitality members can get an Apple Watch for just $25 if they meet certain exercise benchmarks for two years.)

The program could help John Hancock publicize the fact that it insures people with diabetes.

The company, quoting data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, noted that some 30 million Americans have diabetes and 84 million Americans qualify as prediabetic, meaning they are at a high risk of becoming diabetic.

That’s a significant portion of the U.S. life insurance market, and John Hancock said many of those patients mistakenly believe they won’t qualify for life insurance due to the condition. On the contrary, the company said 90 percent of people with diabetes who applied for life insurance from John Hancock over the past 18 months were approved, and 88 percent of those patients were given a standard or better rate.

For his part, One Drop CEO Jeff Dachis said the goal of his company and the partnership is to empower patients with data.

“The future of diabetes care is empowering people to make better choices," Dachis said in the press release.

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