2012 Forecast: Five Top Trends in Workplace Benefits

COLUMBIA, S.C., Nov. 10, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — After several years of economic woes and health care reform wrangling, the only certainty in the future of workplace benefits may be continued uncertainty. But employers, human resources professionals and insurance brokers who want to be prepared for 2012 should pay attention to several emerging trends. Here are the top five predictions for the coming year, according to experts at Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company, one of the nation’s leading employee benefit providers:

1. Products: Critical illness insurance will continue to attract new customers.
With the costs of treating cancer, heart attacks and strokes far exceeding most employees’ major medical coverage, critical illness insurance can provide vital out-of-pocket protection to help with both the medical and nonmedical costs associated with treating and recovering from these diseases. Updated versions of this relatively new product include benefits for multiple occurrences of a critical illness, adding to their value. “One way to think of critical illness insurance is as ‘living life insurance,'” says Randy Finn, assistant vice president of supplemental health products at Colonial Life, where critical illness sales increased 24 percent from 2009 to 2010. “If you get a serious illness such as cancer and die, life insurance helps with that. But what if you survive? You’re likely to have years of financially crippling bills to pay.”

2. Sales: Voluntary insurance sales will rebound strongly.
Increasing workforce diversity and the need to offer choices to employees with widely varying needs will drive an uptick in sales. Group products will continue to grow as a percentage of voluntary sales, while life insurance sales continue to fall. “There’s a big need for better education of workers about the need to protect their most valuable assets with life and disability coverage,” points out Jeff Koll, Colonial Life’s assistant vice president of life and disability products.

3. Services: Wellness programs will become more prevalent as a way for employers to control health care costs and increase productivity and retention.
With no let-up in sight for rising health care costs, employers are increasingly seeing the value of workplace wellness programs as a way to control premium increases and claims costs. Ranging from health screening tools to online nurse services, wellness-related offerings will become a bigger part of benefits providers’ value-added services.

However, the key to seeing a true bottom-line benefit may be as much about employee awareness and engagement as it is about the actual service. “Good communication about wellness programs is essential for them to be effective,” says Steve Bygott, Colonial Life’s assistant vice president of marketing analysis and programs. “Without a focused effort to ensure employees understand the program and its value to them, participation tends to be low.”

4. Technology: Employees will have more options for decision-support tools using online technology.
As employers continue to push benefits decision-making responsibility to their employees, look for a proliferation of websites and interactive tools to help them understand different types of coverage and which ones meet their unique needs. An example is Colonial Life’s Benefits Learning Center website (www.benefitslearningcenter.com), launched last May featuring Youville(SM), an entertaining interactive tool for workers to individualize their benefits education and explore their unique benefits needs.

Research shows most employees don’t actively search for information about their benefits, don’t want frequent communication from their employers about them, and don’t dedicate a significant amount of time to learning more about them.(1) Online decision-support tools such as Youville(SM) offer employees important benefits information with minimal effort, says Dana Bagwell, Colonial Life’s director of benefits communication and education. “These tools give employees easy access to the information they need to make informed benefits decisions, all in one place.”

5. Economy: Government sector employers will focus on cost containment measures for their benefits plans.
Government employers are strongly feeling the effects of several years of reduced tax revenues, and now find themselves in the unfamiliar position of being forced to reduce benefits or raise their employees’ share of the costs. A recent survey of public sector human resources managers showed 80 percent of them are looking at ways to reduce the cost of their employee benefits plans, and 58 percent said controlling costs is their top priority for their benefits programs.(2)

“The good news is there’s a huge opportunity for government employers to control costs by changing their benefits plan design,” says Pat McCullough, Colonial Life’s public sector practice leader. “Government employers have been slower than other industry segments to shift away from the more comprehensive, paternalistic benefits models of the past, but there are solutions to help them offer strong packages and still save money.”
Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company is a market leader in providing insurance benefits for employees and their families through the workplace, along with individual benefits education, advanced yet simple-to-use enrollment technology and quality personal service. Colonial Life offers disability, life and supplemental accident and health insurance policies in 49 states and the District of Columbia. Similar policies, if approved, are underwritten in New York by a Colonial Life affiliate, The Paul Revere Life Insurance Company, Worcester, Mass. Colonial Life is based in Columbia, S.C., and is a subsidiary of Unum Group, one of the world’s leading providers of employee benefits.

For more information, call Colonial Life at (803) 798-7000 or visit www.coloniallife.com.

SOURCE Colonial Life

WellPoint Earns Industry Recognition for Health Care Consumer Empowerment and Protection

INDIANAPOLIS, Oct. 20, 2011 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — WellPoint, Inc., (NYSE: WLP) today announced it has been awarded Silver and Honorable Mention honors for Health Care Consumer Empowerment and Protection by URAC, a leading health care accreditation organization. The awards recognize industry achievements in advancing the role of consumers as active participants in their health care through heightened awareness and education.

“URAC’s Best Practices awards program is a unique celebration of innovative health care management programs. These organizations have implemented leading programs that have made a difference in the lives of the consumers they serve with demonstrable results that matter,” said Alan P. Spielman, president and CEO of URAC. “This year’s winners are recognized for their leadership in delivering on the promise of a quality health care system that puts consumers first.”

WellPoint received the Silver Award for the MyHealth Advantage member messaging program and honorable mentions for the Imaging Cost and Quality Program and the Emergency Room Utilization Management Initiative, which are available to members in select health plans.

“Helping people understand that they play a vital role in their health care and providing the resources they need to get quality, affordable care when they need it and in the right setting is our top priority. This recognition underscores our companywide commitment to continuous improvement and highlights our associates’ hard work and ingenuity in developing programs that empower consumers to make better decisions about their health care,” said Sam Nussbaum, M.D., chief medical officer for WellPoint.

The MyHealth Advantage program involves clinical messaging to members and physicians that leads to improved evidence-based compliance, better member health and a potential reduction in avoidable costs. For instance, members taking a prescription medication may receive messages to restart that medication if they are not adhering to the prescribed regimen or to stop taking a medication that is contraindicated. A study on the program demonstrated that messaging both members and physicians about gaps in clinical care significantly improves compliance with medical care guidelines.

The Emergency Room Utilization Management Initiative helps members find information through online search engines, interactive calls and print brochures. This educational information assists members in knowing what conditions may be treated at a retail health clinic or urgent care centers and their out-of-pocket costs associated with each. A pilot study conducted by HealthCore Inc. in Virginia demonstrated a 14 percent decrease in ER visits for those who participated in the program compared with those who did not.

The Imaging Cost and Quality Program uses technology from WellPoint subsidiary American Imaging Management (AIM) to proactively identify members whose health care providers have recommended they receive an imaging service such as an MRI or CT scan. The program calls those members to offer them an opportunity to switch to a high-quality but lower-cost facility, promoting quality care and transparency while enabling them to use their health care dollars more wisely.

Additionally, WellPoint associate, Patricia Moreno, a health promotion consultant working in its state sponsored business division, received a URAC Health Care Stars! award. This individual honor recognizes Moreno’s work in promoting the welfare of health care consumers by helping to improve lives and prevent adverse health outcomes.

Entries were judged by a distinguished 20-member panel of prestigious, independent judges including recognized experts in program evaluation, care coordination, health information technology, employer and purchaser decision making and patient safety. Entries were reviewed and scored by the judges based on objective criteria including whether the program was measurable, if it was reproducible and delivered through a collaborative approach. Honors were awarded in the categories of Consumer Decision-Making and Consumer Health Improvement.

About WellPoint, Inc.

WellPoint works to simplify the connection between Health, Care and Value. We help to improve the health of our members and our communities, and provide greater value to our customers and shareholders. WellPoint is the nation’s largest health benefits company in terms of medical membership, with 34 million members in its affiliated health plans, and a total of more than 69 million individuals served through its subsidiaries.

About URAC

URAC, an independent, nonprofit organization, is well-known as a leader in promoting health care quality through its accreditation, education and measurement programs. URAC offers a wide range of quality benchmarking programs and services that keep pace with the rapid changes in the health care system, and provide a symbol of excellence for organizations to validate their commitment to quality and accountability. Through its broad-based governance structure and an inclusive standards development process, URAC ensures that all stakeholders are represented in establishing meaningful quality measures for the entire health care industry. For more information, visit http://www.urac.org/.

SOURCE: WellPoint, Inc

 

Kaiser Permanente Leads the Nation in 11 Effectiveness of Care Measures

OAKLAND, Calif. — Kaiser Permanente leads the nation with the most No. 1s receiving top marks in 11 out of 40 effectiveness of care measures among all reporting commercial health plans. These conclusions were based on information in the 2011 National Committee for Quality Assurance’s Quality Compass® data.

Kaiser Permanente received top marks for:

  • Weight assessment for children — body mass index percentile
  • Counseling for nutrition for children
  • Counseling for physical activity for children
  • Chlamydia screening in women (ages 16–20, 21–24 and total)
  • Appropriate testing for children with pharyngitis
  • Appropriate use of medications for people with asthma (ages 12–50, total)
  • Comprehensive diabetes care — LDL control less than 100 mg/dl
  • Comprehensive diabetes care — medical attention for nephropathy
  • Antidepressant medication management (effective acute phase)
  • Antidepressant medication management (effective continuation phase)
  • Annual monitoring for patients on persistent medications — anticonvulsants

“At Kaiser Permanente, our doctors and care teams excel in proactive prevention of illness, early detection of disease, and better treatment of ongoing conditions,” said Amy Compton-Phillips, MD associate executive director, Quality, The Permanente Federation. The data from the Quality Compass demonstrates our commitment to providing high-quality care to our members through evidence-based measures.”

Kaiser Permanente’s nation-leading scores in 11 effectiveness of care measures from NCQA’s Quality Compass® are a result of expert care and medical teams supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. A key differentiator in performance has also been Kaiser Permanente’s increasing use of health information technology and its integrated electronic health record, Kaiser Permanente HealthConnect®, which is the largest private electronic health record in the world. KP HealthConnect provides members with convenient, 24/7 access to their personal health information and to their care teams, with goals of increasing self-management and improving health outcomes.

“Kaiser Permanente has a long history of providing high-quality care to our members and patients,” said Jed Weissberg, MD, senior vice president, Quality and Care Delivery Excellence, Kaiser Permanente. “Our approach to delivering quality is through our integrated system, which focuses on patient-centered care that meets the needs of each of our members. The data from this year’s Quality Compass supports our great accomplishments in this area, and it provides consumers with the important information they need as they make choices about their health care.”

Kaiser Permanente Leads the Nation in 11 Effectiveness of Care Measures

NCQA is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to improving health care quality. NCQA accredits and certifies a wide range of health care organizations. It also recognizes clinicians and practices in key areas of performance. NCQA is committed to providing health care quality information for consumers, purchasers, health care providers and researchers.

The source for data contained in this publication is Quality Compass® 2011 and is used with the permission of the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). Quality Compass 2011 includes certain CAHPS data. Any data display, analysis, interpretation, or conclusion based on these data is solely that of the authors, and NCQA specifically disclaims responsibility for any such display, analysis, interpretation, or conclusion. Quality Compass is a registered trademark of NCQA. CAHPS® is a registered trademark of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

 

About Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, our mission is to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 8.8 million members in nine states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to: www.kp.org/newscenter.

 

Healthper Launches Health Engagement Platform

JERSEY CITY, N.J. & SAN FRANCISCO, Sep 27, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Healthper, Inc., a social game-based health engagement and achievement platform, launched today at the Health 2.0 conference in San Francisco. Healthper helps people accomplish simple daily actions to maintain a healthy lifestyle, create stories about their achievements, share those stories and get rewarded.

“We have been working for almost two years to develop a platform that would engage individuals in making changes to benefit their health in partnership with a social network of their choice,” said John Hammitt, President of Healthper. “Everyone needs help staying healthy. That help can come from our doctors, our family, our co-workers and our friends, but asking for help is hard and often not very rewarding. With Healthper, we’re trying to change that.”

Developed by the former team from CareGain that helped create Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), Healthper is not only a game, it is an extensive and flexible health engagement platform designed to create real value for individuals and their health plans. Healthper`s game- and social network-based engagement drives timely health screenings, preventive care, use of alternative and cost-effective care options, and appropriate follow-up.

“There is general consensus that, as a nation, we need to be healthier and find a way to reduce healthcare costs,” said Hammitt. “Rewarding good behavior is a start, but connecting behavior with the payers and providers is a recipe for real change.”

Healthper’s patent-pending “game-steps” are embedded with simple health actions and daily challenges. Members choose their games, each designed to help them achieve their personal goals, thus paving a distinctive path toward a healthier life. Member progress is tracked and displayed as a unique “Healthper Score,” based on points accumulated from successfully completing chosen game-steps. This highly personalized score provides a measure of progress as well as a measure of status. As members rise in social rank within Healthper’s broad community, they may also join more exclusive, focused communities, or organize one or more communities on their own.

About Healthper

Healthper is an innovative health engagement platform. Founded in 2010, Healthper is a privately held company based in Jersey City, NJ. For more information, please visit: www.healthper.com .

SOURCE: Healthper, Inc.

 

Cigna Mobile Learning Lab Takes to the Streets

BLOOMFIELD, Conn., September 20, 2011 – Is life stressing you out and making you sick? Are you super-sizing your meals without even knowing it? The brand new Cigna Mobile Learning Lab, which kicks off its fall tour at the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) conference taking place now, lets consumers learn first hand how stress, portion control (or lack thereof) and other lifestyles choices can impact health. The 18-wheeler interactive healthy mobile center is a living breathing example of Cigna’s new brand “GO YOU” and is armed with new tools that will touch individuals and help them take control of their health.

The Mobile Learning Lab offers an array of new information and helpful lessons to help “you”—the consumer—harness your power to change your health, such as:

  • stress IQ test featuring a fun quiz, offering interesting stress-related facts and tips to help manage stress and improve health.
  • Real-life examples of portion distortion, proper plate distribution and how to engage in healthier eating.
  • weight vest (weighing 20 pounds!) for you to try on and feel how the extra weight impacts day-to-day activity like taking the stairs or dancing!

In addition to the Mobile Learning Lab, Cigna is taking its new brand and personalized health approach to the leaders of cities and counties throughout the nation through its sponsorship and appearance at ICMA’s national conference in Milwaukee.

“With the challenges facing our economy today, it’s even more critical to ensure that our nation’s city and county leaders are focused on controlling health care costs through the prevention of disease and staying healthy,” states Bert Scott, President, U.S. Commercial Markets, Cigna. “That’s why we are kicking off our fall tour at the ICMA conference – to help educate our nation’s civic leaders and give them hands-on learning of Cigna’s new brand promise, “GO YOU.”

After its launch at ICMA, the Cigna Mobile Learning Lab will travel to a variety of community, client and employee locations. Upcoming public stops include:

  • Phoenix – October 2: University of Phoenix Stadium (Cardinals game)
  • Wilmington, N.C. – October 8-9: Riverfest

For news on where the Mobile Learning Lab is stopping, resources for health and wellness statistics, Cigna’s Mix Six for Healthy Balance Toolkit, inquiries about booking the Mobile Learning Lab at your next event and more, please visithttp://newsroom.cigna.com/MobileLearningLab.

About Cigna

Cigna (NYSE: CI) is a global health service and financial company dedicated to helping people improve their health, well-being and sense of security. Cigna Corporation’s operating subsidiaries in the United States provide an integrated suite of health services, such as medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy and vision care benefits, as well as group life, accident and disability insurance. Cigna maintains sales capability in 30 countries and jurisdictions and has approximately 66 million customer relationships throughout the world.

 

Cigna Enhances Business Model to Meet Changing Customer Needs

BLOOMFIELD, Conn., September 19, 2011 –Cigna (NYSE: CI) today announced anational brand campaign that reflects an innovative approach to meeting the evolving health and well-being needs of consumers. With the theme “GO YOU,” Cigna launches its largest advertising campaign, supporting the company’s focus on delivering easy-to-use programs and providing distinctive customer service.

A scene from a new Cigna television commercial recognizing and celebrating individuality. The commer ...

A scene from a new Cigna television commercial recognizing and celebrating individuality. The commercial is part of a new brand campaign for the health service company. (Photo: Business Wire)

The customer-centric business model and associated “GO YOU” campaign encourages customers to embrace and nurture what it is that makes each of us one-of-a-kind; it’s time to celebrate your true self. National advertising debuts today on major television and cable networks including USA, CNN, Discovery and A&E.Print ads will appear in publications such as Time, Marie Claire, Family Circle andRunners World as well as online on Monster.com, SheKnows.com and iVillage.com. The company also has updated its logo to more directly reflect its focus on individual customers.

“Because personalization is so important to today’s consumers, we offer tailored solutions to meet their evolving health and well-being needs. We seek to provide peace of mind every step of the way,” said David Cordani, President and Chief Executive Officer. “Health and wellness is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Connecting people to better health is the value we deliver as a global health services company.”

Cigna already has put into place 24/7/365worldwide customer service, mobile applications that locate the nearest pharmacies and emergency rooms and decision-support tools that compare quality and medical costs. Customers have broad access to health coaches for chronic conditions like diabetes as well as programs to support healthy lifestyles. The company will engage customers through a new www.cigna.com website as well as social media channels. As part of the range of options for consumers, Cigna is accelerating the expansion of its provenaccountable care organizations and other partnership models with physicians and hospitals, all seeking to achieve quality, choice and affordability.

About Cigna

Cigna (NYSE: CI) is a global health service and financial company dedicated to helping people improve their health, well-being and sense of security. Cigna Corporation’s operating subsidiaries in the United States provide an integrated suite of health services, such as medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy and vision care benefits, as well as group life, accident and disability insurance. Outside the U.S., Cigna serves expatriates in virtually every country in the world and provides employers, affinity groups and individuals access to quality local and global health care and related financial protection programs. Cigna offers products and services in 30 countries and jurisdictions and has approximately 66 million customer relationships throughout the world.

 

 

Humana Launching Diabetic Supply Service for Medicare Part B Participants

LOUISVILLE, Ky.–(BUSINESS WIRE)--Humana Inc. (NYSE:HUM) announced today that its RightSource mail order pharmacy service is now offering diabetic supplies directly to qualified Medicare Part B beneficiaries*, including both Humana Medicare members and non-members enrolled in Medicare Part B. The service includes home delivery of blood glucose meters, test strips, lancets and all other supplies necessary for diabetics to manage their blood sugar levels.

“Since we created RightSource, our team has demonstrated its ability to deliver outstanding customer service, help people get better health outcomes and achieve lifelong well-being.”

In addition to simple, straightforward ordering processes and best-available pricing, RightSource will offer diabetics more than 200 diabetes-certified pharmacists to answer questions and advise diabetics about their supply needs.

“This is an exciting day for all of us at RightSource and Humana because of what this represents for Humana members and non-members who will benefit from this new service,” said William Fleming, vice president of Humana Pharmacy Solutions. “Since we created RightSource, our team has demonstrated its ability to deliver outstanding customer service, help people get better health outcomes and achieve lifelong well-being.”

RightSource offers its customers free shipping, no Medicare claim forms, automatic refill reminders and easy ordering online or by calling 855-569-1542. With distribution centers in Ohio and Arizona, RightSource can quickly deliver orders to customers’ homes.

Following the growth of Humana’s Medicare membership, RightSource has grown significantly in recent years – now serving approximately 600,000 plan members in all 50 states and Puerto Rico – making it one of the largest mail-order pharmacies in the country. Today’s announcement represents RightSource’s first service offering available to both Humana members and non-members (who are enrolled in Medicare Part B).

* In accordance with Medicare regulations

About Humana Pharmacy Solutions

Humana Pharmacy Solutions, a division of Humana Inc., manages traditional pharmacy benefits with member-focused strategies to yield savings in pharmacy and total health expense. Providing prescription coverage for both individuals and employer groups, Humana Pharmacy Solutions strives to give members access to the medicine they need while offering guidance on clinically proven, therapeutically equivalent drugs that bring better value to the member and the customer.

About Humana

Humana Inc., headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, is a leading health care company that offers a wide range of insurance products and health and wellness services that incorporate an integrated approach to lifelong well-being. By leveraging the strengths of its core businesses, Humana believes it can better explore opportunities for existing and emerging adjacencies in health care that can further enhance wellness opportunities for the millions of people across the nation with whom the company has relationships.

 

HealthAmerica Joins with CaféWell as First Health Insurer in Pennsylvania to Use Full Social-Media Platform

PITTSBURGH & HARRISBURG, Pa.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–HealthAmerica announced today the expansion of its social networking community devoted solely to the health and well-being of its members through a relationship with CaféWell. CaféWell is a social media company changing the way millions of people manage their health by making it easy, productive and rewarding. This union is the first of its kind in Pennsylvania, pioneering HealthAmerica in social media within the health insurance industry.

“We know that social networking has the power to connect people like never before”

As part of the engagement strategy to connect to members, CaféWell’s parent company, WellTok Inc., created a new mobile application, allowing instant connection of individuals with similar user profiles and access to health information, healthy recipes and wellness challenges.

HealthAmerica has been piloting the CaféWell program with several of its large accounts since January and is launching CaféWell to all commercial group and individual plan members starting September 1, 2011.

“We know that social networking has the power to connect people like never before,” said Mary Lou Osborne, chief operating officer for HealthAmerica. “HealthAmerica is committed to creating positive associations with health and wellness, encouraging healthy and active behavior, and promoting member engagement and satisfaction. Offering this medium is one way we are trying to create an alignment with our members’ current and future needs.”

CaféWell provides consumers with a single online destination for all their health-related needs, including social networking, expert advice, fun challenges and reliable information. Unlike general social networking sites, CaféWell allows users to control the degree to which their identity is shared, with complete anonymity as the default. To inspire and motivate, CaféWell rewards active users with profile badges, and prizes such as gift cards, iPods and fitness-related items.

With CaféWell HealthAmerica members can:

  • Talk privately about their health concerns.
  • Chat anonymously and securely in discussion groups about chronic conditions and health issues.
  • Get answers from discussion group experts on popular topics like diet, exercise, how to get a good’s night sleep, and when to give your child antibiotics, to name a few.
  • Earn reward points for prizes, while reaching personal goals in individual or group challenges with friends and family.
  • Connect to an extensive collection of health care articles and other resources continuously updated and added by a team of experts.

New mobile application adds convenience for members on the go

CaféWell’s new mobile application makes it more convenient for consumers to manage their health while on the go. Using their iPhones®, members can:

  • Log their activity toward a challenge, before leaving the running trail, gym or yoga studio.
  • Check CaféWell’s leader boards to see who’s making the most progress on each challenge.
  • See what CaféWell friends are doing online, from posting comments, to logging activity, to making new connections.
  • Read and respond to private messages from CaféWell friends.
  • Check their CaféWell Points, which are redeemable for prizes and discounts.

“In today’s world, everyone uses their smart phones and other social media avenues,” said Osborne. “HealthAmerica understands the growing presence of social media in the marketplace and realizes the need for this type of technological advance as a member touch point.”

About HealthAmerica

With over 35 years of providing health care benefits, HealthAmerica has earned a reputation as one of the most trusted and experienced health insurers in Pennsylvania. The company ranks 14th in the nation for HMO and POS plans by the National Committee for Quality Assurance, and its Medicare plan ranks 28th nationally. It has ranked among the top health plans by NCQA for six consecutive years. HealthAmerica provides a range of traditional and consumer-directed health insurance products, including self-funded, Medicare, Medicaid, indemnity, nongroup, and pharmacy plans. It currently has “Excellent” accreditation by the NCQA for its commercial HMO, POS, and Medicare plans. HealthAmerica’s corporate offices are in Harrisburg, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. For more information, visit HealthAmerica’s website at www.healthamerica.cvty.com.

About CaféWell

CaféWell is changing the way millions of people manage their health, through Social Health Management™. The company leverages social media to make health management simple, productive and rewarding. CaféWell provides an online home for health-related social networking, expert advice, fun challenges and reliable information. The ultimate goal is better health, whether someone is coping with a chronic disease, caring for a loved one or just staying fit. Users control the degree to which their identity is shared, with complete anonymity as the default. CaféWell partners with health plans, giving them a neutral, online space to more effectively engage members, reward healthy living and gain timely, actionable insights – aggregated to protect member confidentiality. To learn more about CaféWell and Social Health Management™, visit www.cafewell.com or call 888.935.5865

 

Value-Based Benefit Designs Improve Community Health Value in Colorado Springs

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO and ST. LOUIS August 18, 2011 To reinforce the importance of engaging a community to lower health care costs and improve health and economic sustainability, the Center for Health Value Innovation (CHVI) has chronicled the efforts of three Colorado Springs employers that worked together to change how they were contracting for health. An organization devoted to health improvement through action, innovation and cost containment, CHVI has released a case study report to support other communities in implementing value-based benefit design, quality improvement and Outcomes-Based Contracting™ (aligning employee incentives to improve outcomes from health systems, drive higher value and offer better choices of providers).

“For the first time, we detail the thinking and benefit design changes that moved a community from waste reduction (use of inappropriate services, lack of medication adherence) through risk management (identifying gaps in care or under-managed conditions) and building individual and corporate accountability in purchasing health care services,” said Cyndy Nayer, CHVI President and CEO. “We detail the focus of the three employers, demonstrating the designs that drove success, so that other communities can follow the pathway to improved health and cost containment by focusing on engagement and health outcomes.”

The report highlights the efforts of three Colorado Business Group on Health (CBGH) members, the City of Colorado Springs, Colorado Springs School District 11 and Colorado Springs Utilities, over a five year period to improve population health and contain health cost inflation. The Colorado Springs employers measured the risk to their employees and their corporations, and then prioritized their individual efforts to change how they were contracting for health care with their plans and providers. The result was the collective influence of improved health care management in their city. Important to their success, they not only secured reduction in costs for prevention, wellness, and chronic care management, they also installed incentives for minimally invasive procedures and improvement in health care quality.

The success of these employer programs reinforces a key CHVI principle – lasting value in health improvement is driven at the community level with multi-stakeholder engagement. By highlighting the efforts and results of these employers who came together to implement value-based benefit design, other companies can learn how to build healthier businesses, healthier communities and healthier people.

CHVI has followed the efforts in Colorado Springs, documenting the maturation of the four-step process of value-based benefit design chronicled by CHVI: data, design, delivery and dividends. Levers – which include insurance plan incentives (i.e. providing a premium discount for completing a health risk assessment), stand-alone incentives and disincentives (such as a reduction in co-pays for appropriate surgical procedures, or an out-of-pocket increase to reduce use of emergency departments instead of primary care clinicians or urgent care centers) – are used for better performance and are fundamental to Outcomes-Based Contracting and building engagement across stakeholders, including consumers.

“We knew we needed to address wellness in particular, since national studies indicate that 70% of health care cost is attributable to life style, said Tamara Kirk, HR Supervisor-Benefits, Colorado Spring Utilities, and CBGH Board Chair. “As we do these types of programs collaboratively, we engage other stakeholders and create reform in our local health care system, while at the same time leveraging employers’ purchasing power.”

About the Center for Health Value Innovation (CHVI)

CHVI (501c3) is focused on the pursuit of innovation in benefit designs that improve engagement, accelerate accountability and create a predictable health cost trend. CHVI members represent over 60 million lives from all market segments in the health value supply chain, sharing the evidence of improved health and economic outcomes through value-based designs, including the Outcomes-Based Contracting™ platform for accelerating meaningful change. The Center for Health Value Innovation’s goal is to improve the health of people, organizations and communities throughout the U.S.  www.vbhealth.org

 

CIGNA Says Health Assessment and Coaching Are Key to Reducing Health Risks

BLOOMFIELD, Conn., August 16, 2011 – CIGNA said today its proprietary research shows 66 percent of high-risk individuals and 31 percent of all individuals reduced their health risks after completing the company’s health assessment and using its health coaching programs. By reducing their health risks, individuals are less likely to face future health problems and higher health care costs.

These findings come as CIGNA (NYSE:CI) and the University of Michigan have agreed to extend the health service company’s exclusive license to use the university’s Trend Management System and risk clustering algorithms for three years. CIGNA retains the right for continuous options to renew in the future.

Based on more than 30 years of research conducted by Professor Dee W. Edington, Ph.D., and researchers at the University of Michigan Health Management Research Center, the Trend Management System analyzes an individual’s responses to health risk questions and determines with 83 percent accuracy how likely that individual is to face health problems that could lead to high health care costs in the next two to three years. This predictive model helps encourage individuals to focus on improving their health and enables employers to tailor workplace health and wellness programs to meet the specific needs of their employees.

“Most health plans offer a health assessment, but no other health plan has a license to use the University of Michigan’s Trend Management System and its risk-clustering algorithms,” said Jeff Kang, M.D., CIGNA’s chief medical officer. “This exclusive arrangement puts CIGNA in a unique position to help employers make sound decisions about their workplace wellness strategies while helping individuals understand where they have the greatest opportunity to reduce their risks and improve their overall health.”

“From the time we first started to collaborate five years ago, CIGNA recognized the Trend Management System’s potential to affect people’s lives,” Edington said. “I’m pleased our research is being put to practical use to help people reduce their risks and improve their health and productivity. It makes all those years of research and development worthwhile.”

By combining the risk identification capabilities of the Trend Management System with CIGNA’s health coaching capabilities, CIGNA is able to engage people in improving their health before they begin to incur high medical costs. CIGNA links its health risk assessment and the Trend Management System to the company’s proprietary online health coaching programs for sleep, stress, nutrition and physical activity. Based on their specific results, some individuals are invited to participate in one or more online coaching programs, while others may be invited to participate in one-on-one coaching or counseling.

CIGNA and the University of Michigan also have extended their agreement to collaborate on workplace health and productivity research for another three years. Researchers have studied which risk factors have the most impact on future costs and productivity; the potential correlation between health assessment responses and future disability claims; and which “dangerous combinations” of risks might be early indicators of disease onset.

About CIGNA

CIGNA (NYSE: CI) is a global health service and financial company dedicated to helping people improve their health, well-being and sense of security. CIGNA Corporation’s operating subsidiaries in the United States provide an integrated suite of health services, such as medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy and vision care benefits, as well as group life, accident and disability insurance. CIGNA maintains sales capability in 30 countries and jurisdictions and has approximately 66 million customer relationships throughout the world. All products and services are provided exclusively by such operating subsidiaries and not by CIGNA Corporation. Such operating subsidiaries include Life Insurance Company of North America, CIGNA Life Insurance Company of New York, and Connecticut General Life Insurance Company. To learn more about CIGNA, visit www.cigna.com.