When Americans engage in health-smart habits such as participating in health coaching and disease management programs, substituting generic medications for brand name drugs and avoiding unnecessary trips to the emergency room, their total medical costs went down 15 percent — an average $358 per person in the first year — according to a new multi-year study comparing the health care claims experience of 897,000 CIGNA customers in consumer driven health (CDH) plans, PPOs and HMOs.
The 2010 Fifth Annual CIGNA Choice Fund Experience Study findings show individuals covered by CIGNA Choice Fund CDH plans improve their costs without compromising care by becoming more engaged in improving their health and by becoming informed health care consumers:
- Health coaching and disease management program participation: CIGNA CDH plan customers are up to 19 percent more likely to participate in the CIGNA Health Advisor® health coaching program compared to those enrolled in a traditional plan. Individuals with chronic illnesses covered by CDH plans are 21 percent more likely to participate in their plan’s disease management program.
- Generic medications: CIGNA CDH plan participants who also have CIGNA Pharmacy Management benefits choose generic equivalent drugs 70 percent of the time.
- Avoiding Unnecessary ER visits: The study also shows that CDH plan enrollees use the emergency room at a 13 percent lower rate than individuals who have HMO and PPO plans. When CIGNA Choice Fund customers visit an urgent care facility, their doctor’s office or convenience clinic instead of the ER, they saved an average of $800.
- Informed choices: Customers enrolled in a CIGNA CDH plan are more likely to use online information and tools through myCIGNA.com; use of myCIGNA increases by 40 percent when customers are enrolled in a CDH plan. The study also shows CDH plan enrollees are five times more likely to complete a health assessment compared to those enrolled in a traditional plan.
One company that is realizing the benefits of CIGNA Choice Fund plans is Starwood Hotels & Resorts. According to Starwood Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer Jeff Cava:
“Starwood is demonstrating that by giving our associates affordable health plan choices supported with education and health advocacy resources to help them make better health care decisions, people will make good decisions about their health and wealth. Early on it has become clear that more Starwood associates are using their preventive benefits, increasingly choosing generic medications over costlier brand names and taking advantage of free preventive prescriptions through CIGNA Home Delivery Pharmacy. Moreover, our associates are literally “buying into” their plans — with 83 percent contributing their own pre-tax dollars to their health savings accounts.”
As with previous CIGNA studies, the Fifth Annual CIGNA Choice Fund Experience Study confirms that CDH plans reduce health care costs relative to other types of plans without compromising care or shifting costs to employees:
- Immediate and sustainable cost savings: CIGNA CDH medical costs are 15 percent lower than traditional plans during the first year, cumulative cost savings rise to 18 percent in the second year, 21 percent in the third year, 24 percent in the fourth year, and 26 percent in the fifth year.
- Higher levels of care: New CIGNA CDH customers had the same or better statistical compliance with 400 evidence-based medical best practice measures than their counterparts in traditional plans, and compliance among CIGNA CDH customers is 14 percent higher for those enrolled in CDH plans for multiple years. Moreover, CDH customers sought preventive care 8 to 10 percent more frequently than those enrolled in a traditional plan.
- Less cost for those with chronic conditions: Medical cost trend was substantially less for CIGNA CDH customers with joint disease (21 percent less), diabetes (8 percent less) and hypertension (7 percent less), than for individuals with any of those diseases in traditional CIGNA health plans.
- No cost-shift from employers to employees: CIGNA CDH customers with health reimbursement accounts paid out of their own pockets an average of $35 less per year compared to customers in traditional plans, demonstrating that savings can be achieved without cost shifting; also the percentage of total cost was the same for both men and women.
“Our studies have consistently shown individuals in CIGNA Choice Fund plans reduce their annual health care costs without compromising care, and now the data are rolling in showing why,” explains CIGNA Chief Medical Officer Jeffery Kang, M.D. “The evidence is clear. Given the right incentives, the right health improvement programs, useful cost and quality information, and easy-to-understand correspondence, individuals are making rational, wise and successful health care decisions.
“Perhaps because most individuals covered by CIGNA Choice Fund plans are receiving the same or better levels of care for lower cost, 83 percent of those surveyed report that they are “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the service for their CDH plans – slightly higher than the 82 percent satisfaction rate across all of our health plans.”
CIGNA (NYSE:CI), a global health service company, is dedicated to helping people improve their health, well being and sense of security. CIGNA Corporation’s operating subsidiaries provide an integrated suite of medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy and vision care benefits, as well as group life, accident and disability insurance, through 60 million customer relationships with individuals in the U.S. and around the world. To learn more about CIGNA, visit www.cigna.com.