Review of the Aetna Attain app

by Government Worker FI | Last Updated: February 5, 2020

In this post I review the Aetna Attain app. The app is a health maintenance incentive offered by Aetna that allows you to earn gift cards or an Apple Watch. (The gift cards are a much better deal, read on to find out why). I thought I’d review the app since it seems like a great potential way to earn extra money and Aetna is available to federal employees in almost every state (I love my FEHB!!).

*Note* I have had no correspondence with Aetna regarding this review of the Aetna Attain app. Furthermore, I was not compensated in any way for writing this Aetna Attain app review.

How does the  Aetna Attain app work?

The Aetna Attain app collects activity data from your Apple Watch and sets movement and other activity goals for you. You can earn “points” for two different things:

  1. Meeting the “Move” goal they set for you each day.
  2. Completing “Healthy Action” suggestions

Meeting the “Move” target

For those of you not familiar with the Apple Watch’s activity tracking capability, the watch helps you set 3 goals for the day, “Move”, “Exercise”, and “Stand”. The “Move” goal measures how many calories above your basal metabolic rate you’re burning. It works by continuously measuring your pulse throughout the day. If you’re sitting on your butt, your Move ring doesn’t increase. When you’re active, your heart-rate increases, and the Move ring measures this activity and calories. 

When I signed up for the App, the app told me that they had a move goal of 500 calories per day based off of my age and gender. (My personal Move goal is 720 calories per day. While 500 calories isn’t a vigorous amount of exercise for someone of my body type, you can’t hit it sitting on the couch either). Every day you reach your Move goal, they give you 10 points (1,000 points = 1 USD). They also give you a weekly bonus if you reach your Move target a certain number of times per week. The weekly bonus is huge (2,750 points). 

When I started using the Aenta Attain app, I only needed to meet my Move goal three days a week to win the bonus. Slowly they ramped it up to where I now need to meet my goal 7 days a week to win the bonus.

I should note that I’ve never *not* reached my bonus. I’m not sure if everyone has to meet it 7 days a week or not. Perhaps if you struggle to meet the goal 5 days a week they keep the bonus at 5 days.

Healthy Actions

Additionally, you can earn points throughout the week when you interact with the app. Cards will pop up in the app. Following the suggestions on the cards can earn you between 25 points and 400 points. The 25 point cards simply require you to acknowledge you read them. (2.5 cents for swiping my phone… what could be easier?). The 400 point cards require you to complete a certain type of exercise and track it on your Apple Watch. The most common card type is a 100 point card where they give you a suggestion with 3 choices “I already do this”, “I’ll try this”, or “I’ll never ever do this.” Clicking any one of those three buttons gives you a dime.

Example of a 25 point healthy action card in the aetna attain app review
Example of a 25 point healthy action.
Example of a 400 point healthy action
Example of a 400 point Healthy Action card.

What are the benefits of using the  Aetna Attain app?

In my experience you can easily earn about 3,000-4,000 points ($3-4) per week using the app. You can then purchase gift cards through the app. I like to save up until I reach 50,000 points and buy an Amazon gift card (which is pretty much the same as cash). So far I’ve made $100 in 6 months using the app. 

The monetary reward is big enough to make me care about the app. As a result, I make healthier choices to earn the rewards. So in that respect, the app works. My health insurance company is trying to incentivize healthy behavior and I am responding to the incentive by making sure I close my move goal every day and try the lifestyle suggestions.

Review of privacy concerns with the Aetna Attain app

The Aetna Attain app involves trading some of your privacy for money. Sharing health information with your health insurance company can be scary. However, the privacy policy explicitly states that the information obtained by the app

  1. Will not be sold to 3rd parties
  2. Will not be used for setting your premium or your eligibility for health insurance.
Relevant text from the privacy policy
Excerpt from the terms of use of the Aetna Attain app

I am comfortable with this trade-off where I share my Apple watch data with my health insurance company in exchange for money. Although I completely understand that other people may feel differently. Since the program explicitly states that sharing my data will not affect my premiums or eligibility, it seems like there is little downside in participating in the program. Plus I’m someone that burns 1,000+ active calories in a day. I’m happy to share that data with my health insurance company.

The Apple Watch Option

The program requires an Apple Watch. (Which is great if you’re an iPhone user, but there is no Android equivalent for the program).

Instead of gift cards, it is also possible to earn an Apple Watch through the program. You can then repay Aetna with points. Since I already had an Apple Watch, I did not select this options so I cannot review it. From the literature I read, it sounded like you had 2 years to pay off the watch (with points). I also remember thinking that it would take you 2 years to pay off the watch at the rate you accumulate points.

Given that you can make about $200 dollars a year in the program, and that you can get an Apple Watch for around $200 (affiliate link), it seems like a much better deal to buy the watch outside of the program and then use the points to buy gift cards.

Another thing I didn’t like about the Apple Watch program is that if you didn’t earn enough points in the program, you would receive a bill from Aetna for the remaining balance. I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t want to sign up for an incentive program where I could *lose* money.

That’s my review of the Aetna Attain app. Let me know what you think in the comments!