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5 Answers About John Hancock's New Diabetes Program

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John Hancock is offering a program that could help some people with diabetes save money on life insurance.

The Boston-based Manulife Financial Corp. unit is teaming up with Onduo — a health tech company with a complicated family tree — to introduce the John Hancock Aspire with Vitality program.

John Hancock has already been offering a Vitality life insurance wellness program to all of its life policyholders. Participants who use an app to monitor their health, and who take health improvement advice, can use the program to cut their life insurance premiums by up to 25%.

(Related: Almost Half of Americans Take Prescription Drugs: CDC)

The new Aspire program crosses John Hancock’s Vitality program with diabetes management tech from Onduo. Aspire participants with either Type 1 diabetes or Type 2 diabetes can use the program to cut their premiums by up to 25%, when compared with what they would pay without access to the Aspire program, John Hancock says.

The Aspire Family Tree

Onduo is the South San Francisco-based child of Sanofi — a drug manufacturer — and Verily Life Sciences LLC.

Verily is the corporate daughter of Alphabet Inc. Alphabet is Google’s mom.


Verily and Google are sisters.

Onduo is Google’s niece.

Aspire is Google’s great niece.


People need to have just the right level of sugar in the blood. High levels of sugar can kill people by damaging their blood vessels, kidneys and other organs. Very low levels of sugar can cause people to fall into a coma and die.

Insulin is a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels.

In people with Type 1 diabetes, the immune system destroys most or all of the insulin-producing cells.

In people with Type 2 diabetes, which is often associated with obesity, the body may make some insulin, but the amount of insulin produced is too small, or the body may resist the effects of the insulin.

The Aspire Program

People with diabetes who join the Aspire program will get access to the Onduo online diabetes clinic, along with a blood glucose monitor that connects with an Onduo diabetes management app.

Participants will get personalized education, diabetes management prompts, incentives and rewards.

John Hancock life insurance policyholders with diabetes will have access to the standard Vitality health coaching, wellness benefits and rewards programs. They can also earn extra incentive points for taking steps to manage or improve their condition.

Questions and Answers

Lindsay Hanson, head of partnerships and innovation at John Hancock Insurance, answered questions about the Aspire program via email.

Here’s an edited version of the exchange.

1. Why did John Hancock decide to launch Aspire?

About 30 million Americans are living with diabetes (types 1 and 2) and half (15 million) either don’t have life insurance or don’t have enough life insurance. Further, almost half (47%) of people living with diabetes are worried they won’t qualify for a life insurance policy, and another 45% assume it’s too expensive.

We are in a unique position to help people live longer, healthier lives while offering the priceless peace of mind that comes with life insurance. And that ambition stands true across a variety of health conditions. That’s why we are thrilled to work with innovative industry leaders, Verily and Onduo, to provide access to people living with diabetes to this first-of-its kind life insurance offering.

It’s time our industry started delivering more solutions that are tailor-made to help our customers — and for us, this is just the beginning.

2. Has John Hancock already been covering people with diabetes? If so, how has that worked?

Yes, John Hancock has long offered regular life insurance to people living with diabetes. In fact, our parent company Manulife Financial, was the first North American insurance company to offer life insurance to controlled diabetics, in 1942….

Our existing insured population generally reflects the U.S. population overall and, as such, we certainly have existing customers living with diabetes. Until this time, there hasn’t been a life insurance solution built specifically for such customers, so outcomes would be generally consistent with outcomes for people living with diabetes nationwide.

In 2015, we introduced John Hancock Vitality, a new type of life insurance that provides customers with education, support, incentives and rewards to help them live a longer, healthier lives.  We have found this solution to be popular with people living with diabetes and have observed higher frequency of physical activity, doctors’ visits and other healthy activities among Vitality customers.

3. What do people in the general population of people with diabetes think about access to life insurance?

Our interest in serving people living with diabetes has led us to conduct research among that population, and we found some disturbing results. One, half of people living with diabetes didn’t think they could quality for life insurance, and two, half thought that, if they could [qualify], it would be too expensive.

These insights were part of the catalyst for developing John Hancock Aspire.

4. Has John Hancock distinguished between people with Type 1 diabetes and people with Type 2 diabetes?

While qualification rates and underwriting classes may vary, there has not historically been any difference in coverage that the two populations would have access to. With our new solution, John Hancock Aspire, we are excited to serve people living with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

5. For the insureds, how is this program an improvement over existing life insurance programs?

There are several key features and benefits that distinguish this solution from ordinary life insurance.

  • Premium savings: This solution affords the customer the opportunity to save up to 25% on their annual insurance premium by taking steps to control their diabetes and live a longer, healthier life.
  • State-of-the-art personalized diabetes management support: Qualifying customers with type 2 diabetes are eligible to access Onduo’s virtual clinic and receive a range of personalized diabetes management support services.
  • Vitality: All Aspire customers have access to the John Hancock Vitality program, a comprehensive platform that provides the education, support, incentives and rewards to help people live longer, healthier lives.
  • Vitality Enhancements: We have enhanced the Vitality platform to provide substantially higher rewards for either maintaining healthy A1c levels or making meaningful progress towards target A1c levels.
  • Customized Content and Education:  John Hancock Aspire customers will receive a range of customized content, including a free subscription to the American Diabetes Association’s Diabetes Forecast.

— Read Cheaper Insulin Could Cut Hospital Bills by $5 Billion: Yale Researcheron ThinkAdvisor.

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