Health Plans Lower Costs & Improve Care

Several of this past week’s news items caught the eye of the Health Plan Innovation Blog but none more so than the press release issued by CIGNA stating that medical cost trend for CIGNA HealthCare consumer-driven health plan (CDHP) members is less than half that of CIGNA’s HMO and PPO plan members. What is really exciting, is that CIGNA has found that member out of pocket costs were similar between CDHPs and traditional plans. The press release reported:

“First year Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) cost share percentage (% of member paid costs) was similar to traditional plans while second year CDHP member cost share percentages were 4% less for both HRA and Health Savings Account (HSA) members. These out-of-pocket costs do not account for the fact that payroll contributions for HRA and HSA are generally lower, providing members with additional savings. Notably, these results were similar regardless of gender or health status.

Also significant is that the study showed that the use of preventive care increased. “First-year member preventive visits increased and second-year member visits were significantly higher than those among traditional plan members.”

Furthermore, CIGNA found that recommended care compliance remained constant and medication compliance improved, while costs decreased.

The press release quoted Helen Darling, president of the National Business Group on Health, a non-profit organization devoted to finding innovative and forward-thinking solutions to large employers most important health care and related benefits issues as saying, CIGNA’s research based on two years of claims data adds to the mounting evidence that consumer-driven health plans offer an affordable, cost effective way to provide benefits that can save money, increase consumer engagement, and not compromise the quality of care. As we debate in earnest, at national and state levels, how to provide insurance for millions of people without protection, consumer-driven plans have to be at the top of the list of reasonable solutions.

The Health Plan Innovation Blog heartily concurs with Darling’s conclusion. The CIGNA finding should go a long way to disprove the theory that these plans are only good for the healthy and the wealthy.

Read the full release.

tag: healthcare reform, consumer-driven health care, health savings accounts

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