Aetna in secret talks with Apple about giving members Apple Watches

Posted August 16, 2017

Apple and Aetna held secret meetings last week to bring Apple's health- and fitness-tracking device, Apple Watch, to Aetna customers, according to three sources who spoke with CNBC.

Meanwhile, Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities believes that the Apple Watch Series 3 will have LTE and non-LTE versions.

According to the report Aetna, which now offers an Apple Watch to its 50,000 employees as part of a wellness program, is negotiating to offer free or discounted watches to members. Officials from major hospitals around the country were also in attendance. Citing people with knowledge of the development, CNBC said that the companies met last week, and senior officials from both Apple and Aetna were present. It remains to be seen whether or not Apple will be able to beef up the battery of its smartwatch, since adding features like cellular connectivity will drain it faster than before.

The inclusion of an LTE chip was first suggested by noted insider Mark Gurman, and now, two more typically reliable sources have corroborated his original report with even more detail.

Apple and Aetna declined CNBC's request for comment.

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Rumors claim that the next Apple Watch will be revamped just like the iPhone 8, with built-in LTE capabilities and an all-new form factor.

Likely called Apple Watch Series 3, the new model will have an LTE version, the report says, which would make it a standalone device. Apple shipped 2.8 million watches globally in the second quarter of 2017, up 56 per cent year-on-year, according to Strategy Analytics. Health and fitness-tracking are the primary features of the Apple Watch, and the deal between the companies could really increase the sales for Cupertino based tech giant.

Apple shares are up 1.67%.

A September unveiling also makes sense because Apple has already announced plans to release watchOS 4 - its wearable operating system - in the fall.