Welcome to the WBD News Flash, your weekly highlight of HR benefits and healthcare news. Weekly, we will provide you with the top trending industry news stories in healthcare, human resources, legislation, benefits technology and administration, and more. Make the WBD News Flash your go to reference for current events!

Amazon Introduces Wearable Health Tech

Amazon has announced their answer to the Apple Watch and Fitbit: Amazon Halo, a wearable which integrates with a number of health systems. Designed for health monitoring only, with no screens or notifications from other apps, the Amazon Halo will work on a subscription basis.

The Amazon Halo will include tools for measuring activity, sleep, body fat percentage, and “tone” — analyzing “energy and positivity in a customer’s voice so they can better understand how they may sound to others, helping improve their communication and relationships.” It will also work with Amazon Halo Labs, guided workouts and challenges to help users find healthier habits. Labs will include content from companies such as Headspace, Orangetheory, Mayo Clinic, and WW.

12 Million Lose Employer-Sponsored Health Coverage

The Economic Policy Institute is reporting that 6.4 million workers have lost access to insurance due to pandemic job loss. With spouses and dependents factored in, this brings the total number of workers losing coverage to the neighborhood of 12 million. Medicaid and public health insurance are doing some of the lifting for these uninsured, as are some new hiring increases over the summer.

The think tank report makes several suggestions for policymakers, including guaranteeing federal coverage of COVID-19 related expenses, creating a public option on the ACA marketplace which enrolls all workers without job-based insurance, or even ending the link between employers and insurance with a single-payer plan.

Mixed Views on COVID-19 Vaccines from Public, Government, & Scientists

As the US government funds studies for a COVID-19 vaccine, politicians, scientists, and the public are divided on the topic. FDA chief Stephen Hahn has told The Financial Times that his agency was prepared to bypass a full approval process in order to fast-track a vaccine before clinical trials were complete.

Meanwhile, some medical experts are pointing to public distrust of vaccines and widespread concerns any vaccine approved will be rushed due to political motivation, as they request an independent panel to review coronavirus vaccine data. They say the FDA’s recent handling of COVID-19, including a statement which mischaracterized the effectiveness of plasma treatment, contribute to an overall lack of trust in the federal agency, and any vaccines it approves.

A survey by STAT and the Harris Poll found a bipartisan majority worries that the vaccine approval process is being driven by politics more than science.