Mike Wells, the general manager of the insurance company Prudentialsaid Apple and Google The platforms have to be competitors in the health sector, but that would mean there will be even more regulatory controls going on than before.
Reaching billions of people with their iOS and Android mobile operating systems, the Silicon Valley giants have deepened health in recent years.
Wells spoke to CNBC’s Geoff Cutmore about the launch of Prudential’s health app called Pulse, which will allow people in 10 Southeast Asian countries to perform health exams, check symptoms, video consults with doctors, and view medical profiles.
“Apple and Google as competitors certainly have the appropriate platforms,” said Wells, who was interviewed at CNBC’s East Tech West conference, which is taking place virtually and on-site in Guangzhou, China. But Wells added, “You don’t have the licenses to do that yet.”
According to Wells, whether Apple and Google want to get into insurance sales is an “interesting question” that depends on whether they want to operate on “more or less regulatory fronts”.
Neither company has launched a specific health insurance product, but they have shown initial signs that they are not afraid to step into the room.
Mike Wells from Prudential.
Simon Dawson | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Truly, Google’s health-focused sister company has been involved in health insurance for years. It has teams working on medical research, diabetes care, and a number of pandemic-specific initiatives.
In August, Truly announced A new subsidiary called Coefficient Insurance was established. The company, which focuses on employer-sponsored insurance known as “stop loss”, has received an undisclosed amount of support from the commercial insurance division of Swiss Re Group.
Apple has since announced partnerships with insurers, like Aetnathat allow people to “earn” the cost of an Apple Watch by being healthier. There are also private Medicare plans to subsidize the cost of the device for the elderly.
There are concerns that companies have grown so large that their dominance of the market prevents smaller companies from competing. Google, for example, was Fine of 2.42 billion euros ($ 2.85 billion) from the European Commission in 2017 for allegedly abusing its dominance as a search engine and giving its own shopping service an illegal advantage. Google has tweaked its platform to avoid the EU fine, but some tech giants are appealing the decisions of the regulators.
According to Wells, Prudential “is used to working in a very regulated environment and for us this is a natural extension of our business models and we work closely with policy makers.”
While some smaller tech companies may struggle to work with strict regulations, Apple and Google don’t, he said. “You are very capable of dealing with regulation.”