Aetna HealthFund Consumer-Directed Plans Save Employers, Consumers Millions of Dollars Each Year

Hartford, Conn., February 28, 2011 — Employers that replaced their traditional health benefits plans with Aetna HealthFund® consumer-directed plans saved $21.5 million over a five-year period for every 10,000 members, based on a recent study of Aetna (NYSE: AET) health care claims and utilization. The study showed that members of consumer-directed plans accessed more preventive care and screenings than people with traditional Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plans. In addition, Aetna HealthFund plan members were more engaged health care consumers and continued to get the care they need.

The study, which is the longest-running review of consumer-directed health plans in the industry, included more than 2 million Aetna members. The study compared people with PPOs and those with Aetna HealthFund plans, which consist of Health Savings Accounts (HSA) and Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRA). When compared to PPO members, HSA members used online tools to look up cost information nearly three times as often and took a health assessment twice as often.

“Aetna has been on the forefront of the consumer-directed health plan movement since the beginning,” said Aetna CEO and President Mark Bertolini. “The rising cost of health care has been a concern for companies for many years now. We have shown that by working together to engage consumers in their own care and by giving them easy-to-understand tools and actionable information, we can help companies keep their employees healthy and save money.”

While companies that switched completely to Aetna HealthFund plans reaped the highest cost savings, those that offered Aetna HealthFund HRA and HSA plans as one option experienced savings of $9 million over five years for every 10,000 members enrolled in all health plan options.  Among other findings, members in the Aetna HealthFund plans:

  • Spent 12 percent more on preventive care and accessed higher levels of screenings for breast and cervical cancer compared to members in PPO plans. In particular, diabetics in the Aetna HealthFund plans accessed screenings at higher rates than diabetic members in PPO plans;
  • Visited the emergency room for non-urgent care five percent less than members in a PPO plan; and
  • Used the prescription drugs to treat chronic conditions, such as diabetes, heart failure, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, at rates similar to PPO members.

The results also showed that HSAs continue to demonstrate more dramatic savings than HRAs. HSA members had 15 percent lower primary care physician utilization for non-routine visits, which may include a cold or sore throat, 11 percent lower specialist utilization and 9 percent lower overall medical costs in 2009.

The study looked at nearly 2.3 million members, which consisted of 1.8 million members whose employer offered an Aetna HealthFund product but who chose another product, and 498,000 Aetna HealthFund members. The study period extended from January 1, 2002 to December 31, 2009.

In addition, this year the study analyzed the impact of plan design on cost savings. Employers that offered plans that required increased member responsibility exhibited the best 2009 total cost trends. Specifically, those who offered Aetna HealthFund plans with deductibles of at least $1,500 for individuals experienced approximately 4 percent lower total cost trend than plans with deductibles that were less than $1,000.

The Aetna HealthFund study also provides employers with examples of how to maximize the potential of their Aetna HealthFund plan, including:

  • Designing a plan that includes appropriate levels of member responsibility;
  • Encouraging employees to enroll in the consumer-directed plan option by lowering the employees’ contribution levels or increasing the amount of funds in the account;
  • Communicating and educating members on how to use the plans; and
  • Offering wellness programs and incentives for healthy behaviors.

For more detailed information about the study, click here.

About Aetna
Aetna is one of the nation’s leading diversified health care benefits companies, serving approximately 35.3 million people with information and resources to help them make better informed decisions about their health care. Aetna offers a broad range of traditional, voluntary and consumer-directed health insurance products and related services, including medical, pharmacy, dental, behavioral health, group life and disability plans, and medical management capabilities and health care management services for Medicaid plans.

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