scroll top

Free smartwatch? How to get your insurance to pay for health tech

We earn commissions for transactions made through links in this post. Here's more on how we make money.

If you want a smartwatch, don't fall for clickbait advertisements that promise a free device. Often, those types of ads are just trying to steal your personal data. And if you actually get a free smartwatch by mail, it may be loaded with malware.1

To get a discount on a legit smartwatch or health tech device, start with your health insurance provider. In some cases, your device might be covered 100%.

In this post, we’ll cover the best ways to get a free or affordable smartwatch or fitness tracker, help you avoid free smartwatch scams, and discuss the benefits of owning one. We’ll also cover free fitness tracking apps you can use without a smartwatch.  

Keep reading to learn about:

What health tech devices are covered by insurance?

Health insurance plans that (may) cover health monitoring watches

Other ways to get a free or cheap smartwatch

Watch out for free smartwatch scams

What health tech devices are covered by insurance?

Depending on your insurance provider and level of coverage, devices like smartwatches and fitness trackers may be covered, since they can measure health data factors like heart rate and sleep patterns — and studies show that people who use these features are more likely to exercise and enjoy the experience2 and gain early awareness of health issues such as heart disease and movement disorders.3

However, smartwatch benefits are not often promoted on insurer websites. Information on perks like free smartwatches is readily available to current members of an insurance plan, but hard to find when you are shopping around for coverage on your own. If you are employed, get in touch with your HR representative during open enrollment to get the inside scoop or contact customer service for the health plan that interests you.

For example, the Devoted Health Medicare Advantage Plan of Greater Houston will reimburse members up to $150 per year to purchase an Apple Watch or other health tech device.4  

If you are at risk for certain health conditions, some insurance providers cover smartwatches or fitness trackers as an incentive to meet weight loss and other health goals. This is the case for people who enroll in the Lark Diabetes Prevention Program, which provides free Fitbit with participating insurance plans.5

To qualify for a free Fitbit with Lark, you’ll have to answer health questions to determine your level of risk for diabetes. Once accepted, you’ll have to be active in the program for 10 weeks and complete all activities to earn the Fitbit.

Some health insurers require you to meet exercise benchmarks each month to avoid paying additional fees on your device:

byu/bigpapakakarot from discussion
byu/bigpapakakarot from discussion

Keep in mind, providers may only authorize coverage for devices with FDA-cleared applications — those that accurately monitor or measure aspects of health like your heart rate or sleep patterns. The Apple Watch’s ECG app is an example of an FDA-cleared app.6

This news report talks about the benefits of having a smartwatch for your health:

Here’s a list of top health tech devices that may be covered in full or part by health insurance:

Apple Watch

Price range: $249-$1249+

Though the Apple Watch is one of the most expensive smartwatches you can buy, it also offers tons of features, including: 

  • Activity monitoring: Monitor calorie burn, activity, and how many times you stood up and moved each hour. Your device can also track how your body responds to different types of exercise through metrics like heart rate elevation.
  • Heart monitoring: Get notifications about irregular heart activity or generate an electrocardiogram (ECG) you can send to your doctor.
  • Sleep tracking: The Apple Watch can report on the quality of your sleep throughout the night, track your body temperature, and work with a connected iPhone to set sleep reminders.
  • Emergency alerts: If you have been in a car accident or have fallen down, the watch can connect you with first responders and notify your emergency contacts.
  • Communication: With a paired iPhone, you can make calls, text, see notifications for appointments, check the weather, and monitor daily task lists. Even if your kids don’t have an iPhone, they can call or text you with their Apple Watch.
  • Device recovery: You can use your Apple Watch to track the location of your iPhone, Airpods, or other AirTag-connected items.
  • Apple Music streaming
  • Apple Pay

Features vary by model, and insurance providers may specify which ones are covered.

FDA-cleared features include the ECG and AFib apps, which monitor heart rhythm, and the StrivePD app, which helps people with Parkinson’s track symptoms and manage treatment.7 

As far as compatibility, Apple Watches only pair with iPhones.


Price range: $79.95-$399.99

Fitbit has been around since 2007 and is the OG in the health tracker space. The brand offers both fitness trackers and smartwatches with a variety of features like: 

  • Activity tracking: Track your steps taken and number of active minutes.
  • Heart rate monitoring: Check your current and resting heart rate, and set up notifications for any abnormal heart activity.
  • Sleep monitoring: Learn about your sleep cycles, breathing rate and blood oxygen levels to understand your overall quality of sleep and any potential health concerns.
  • Temperature checks: You can also keep track of your changing temperature during illness and to track ovulation. 
  • Stress management: Fitbit has apps to measure your stress response through changes in your body and offers mood logs and other stress management tools.
  • Hands-free purchasing: Fitbit Pay allows you to use your smartwatch to pay for items wherever the contactless payment symbol is shown.
  • Communication: Pair with your smartphone to accept or reject calls, use quick reply text messages, and read appointment notifications.

Devices have different features based on the model, and some include data directly on the device. You can unlock more features with a Fitbit Premium subscription for $9.99 per month. 

Fitbit was acquired by Google in 2021, so if you browse for devices on, you’ll also see different Google Pixel Watch models. Devices are compatible with iPhone, Android and Google Pixel smartphones.

Like the Apple Watch, Fitbit also has some FDA-cleared devices and apps, including the ECG app with an atrial fibrillation (AFib) algorithm8 and the ARIA WiFi Smart Scale.9


Price range: $79.99-$1,900+

Garmin, known for its GPS navigation devices, offers a large variety of smartwatches and activity trackers. The brand also has options to track movement and exercise for people in wheelchairs.

Garmin device features include:

  • Health and fitness monitoring: Track your exercise and movement on land or even in water, and manage fitness goals.
  • Sleep tracking: Look at your sleep data to learn more about the quality of your rest.
  • Heart monitoring: Garmin keeps track of your blood oxygen levels over time, tracks your heart at rest and during exercise, and alerts you when something is wrong.
  • Communication: Make calls and receive text messages through your device.
  • Solar charging and built-in flashlights

Garmin has more than 90 available devices, and they allow you to filter products on their site based on which features you want. Garmin also offers an FDA-cleared app called the ECG app, which monitors heart function and is useful in detecting AFib (abnormal heartbeats) on the Venu 2 Plus.10

Garmin also has devices specifically for children with a parent-controlled app and pairs with Android and iPhone smartphones. 

Other smartwatch brands

A quick search on Amazon shows there are thousands of options for wearable health tech devices — some for less than $50, like this Jawploy Fitness Tracker with blood pressure and heart rate monitoring that retails for $31.50:

Read customer reviews to learn about the customer experience with a particular device before you purchase.

If your insurance will help you pay for a smartwatch, ask if it must be a certain brand or model or if you have a choice of fitness tracker or smartwatch.

Health insurance plans that (may) cover health monitoring watches

When it comes to getting a free or discounted smartwatch, every insurer is different. If you have certain health conditions, you may automatically qualify, while other insurers will require a doctor’s prescription. 

Check out how these health insurance providers handle health tracking watches for their members:


Aetna had a program (Attain by Aetna) where you could get a free Apple Watch, but it ended in late 2023. Now, the insurance provider offers a fitness reimbursement on select 2024 Medicare plans that includes fitness trackers like Apple Watch or Fitbit. 

Members are limited to one fitness tracker per plan year and must include an itemized receipt for the purchase.

Aetna also advertises discounts on health-related products and services. These discounts are not part of any Aetna plan, but are provided by third-party vendors.

How to get help:

  • Call 800-872-3862 or the number on your Aetna insurance ID card

Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS)

BCBS offers a program called Blue365 that provides the following discounts:

  • Up to 20% off Garmin devices
  • Up to 20% off Fitbit and Google devices
  • Up to 50% off select Fitbit, Garmin and Polar heart rate monitors

This program is free to join but is not offered on all BCBS insurance plans.

Each BCBS plan has its own options for reimbursement of health and fitness devices and services. So, check with your plan representative before you make a purchase.

How to get help:

  • Register for Blue365 with your member ID
  • Call the number on your BCBS insurance ID card

Cigna Healthcare

Cigna offers a Healthy Rewards program for individual and family health insurance plans. They offer discounts on wearable fitness devices, gym memberships, and more. For specific details about which health tech devices are included, you’ll need to access your Cigna account.

How to get help:

  • Log in to and check the Wellness category
  • Call 800-870-3470 or the number on your Cigna Healthcare insurance ID card

Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente offers its members ChooseHealthy, a program that provides discounts on activity trackers from Fitbit, Garmin and other brands. This program is not available to Medicaid members.

How to get help:

  • Visit Kaiser Permanente online, select your region and choose the Health & Wellness category
  • Call the number on your Kaiser Permanente insurance ID card

Medicare Advantage

If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, you may be eligible for a discounted fitness tracker or reimbursement when you purchase one. 

For example, Humana’s Medicare Advantage members with the over-the-counter (OTC) benefit can purchase a Fitbit from CenterWell Pharmacy online using an allowance on their Humana Spending Account card to save money.11

Other Medicare partners who offer access to free health trackers include:

  • Silver&Fit: Member can choose one wellness kit per year, such as a fitness tracker kit that offers a choice of a Fitbit or Garmin tracker
  • Wellcare: Provides one free Fitbit to members with a promo code from their insurer

How to get help:

  • Call the number on your Medicare Advantage plan ID card


The UnitedHealthcare (UHC) Rewards program allows members to earn money (up to $1,000 per year) by completing healthy activities. For example, you could earn $5.25 each week for walking 5,000 steps a day or $25 for completing a health survey. 

Funds are loaded on prepaid debit cards or into a health savings account (HSA), which you can use to purchase a smartwatch. 

How to get help:

  • Activate UHC rewards through the UnitedHealthcare app or at
  • Call the number on your UHC insurance ID card

Other ways to get a free or cheap smartwatch

Here are some other ways to get a smartwatch:

  • As a new wireless customer: If you switch to a new wireless provider, you may be able to get a free smartwatch or fitness tracker as part of an incentive program (As of May 2024, AT&T offers a free Pixel Watch 2 if you buy the Google Pixel 8a phone.)
  • Pay over time: Make monthly payments using an interest-free buy now pay later solution through  Amazon or by selecting  PayPal in 4 at checkout with participating stores
  • Rent to own: Use a business like BBB A+ rated Leaseville to rent your smartwatch, interest-free, starting at $10 a week until you pay it off.

Free Fitbit from the government

The All of Us Research Program from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) offers a WEAR Study where eligible participants can get a free Fitbit. 

You agree to use the Fitbit, and the study receives data from your device to gather information about your lifestyle.

Learn more about the WEAR Study.

John Hancock life insurance

John Hancock life insurance has two programs for its policyholders: Vitality Plus and Vitality Go. 

Through Vitality Plus, which costs as little as $2 per month to join, you can get an Apple Watch starting at $25 plus tax. Once you have it, you can complete exercises to pay for any remaining balance. 

With Vitality Plus, you are also eligible for discounts on smartwatches and fitness trackers. The free Vitality Go program also provides discounts on health tech devices.

Watch out for free smartwatch scams

Unfortunately, smartwatch scams target people who are looking for free or low-cost devices. There are some common scams to look out for:

  • You get a free smartwatch in the mail you didn't request. It could be full of malware to take your personal information once you start using it.
  • Free smartwatch ads requesting payment for shipping — the device may never come, but the ad creator still gets your payment information.
  • You are being pressured to take action right away or you will lose the option to get a free smartwatch.
  • You can only pay with specific options like cryptocurrency, wire transfer, gift cards or by first depositing a check they send into your bank account.
  • You get a call, text message or email from a business or organization you know, but they are asking for information they should already know.

If a free smartwatch offer seems too good to be true or feels off, do some research. You can start by searching Google to see what others have said about the free smartwatch offer. Also, check forums like Reddit and resources like Quora before acting on an offer.

Some scammers try to make websites and emails look official, using logos and colors that look like legit business you already trust, so be cautious about clicking on links. When in doubt, contact that business directly to ask about the free smartwatch offer. 

In these threads, Reddit users talk about smartwatch scams and how they handled them:

Check out our posts on other ways to get free and cheap technology:

Free smartphoneFree tablet
Free laptopFree wifi
Free internetFree cable
Free streaming


  1. “Workout with a Smartwatch: A Cross-Sectional Study of the Effects of Smartwatch Attributes on Flow Experience and Exercise Intentions Depending on Exercise Involvement” November 30, 2023. MDPI.
  2. “Smartwatches in healthcare medicine: assistance and monitoring; a scoping review” November 3, 2023. NIH National Library of Medicine.
  3. “Warning Issued to Troops Receiving Strange Smartwatches in the Mail” Jun 22, 2023.
  4. “2024 Devoted Health Plans Summary of Benefits” August 30, 2023. Devoted Health Plans.
  5. “How do I earn a Fitbit in the Diabetes Prevention Program?” Accessed March 14, 2024. Lark. 
  6. “De Novo Classification Request for ECG App” August 14, 2018. Food and Drug Administration.
  7. “Apple Watches have Two New FDA-Cleared Health Applications” June 29, 2022. AAMI Array.
  8. “New Fitbit feature makes AFib detection more accessible” April 11, 2022. The Keyword. 
  9. “Fitbit 510(k) Summary of Safety and Effectiveness” December 2013. Concurrence of CDRH, Office of Device Evaluation.
  10. “Understand your body better with the new ECG App from Garmin” January 24, 2023. Garmin.
  11. “Over-the-counter (OTC) allowance benefit” June 30, 2022. Humana.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *