As overall medical costs continue to increase by double digits annually, medical costs for individuals in account-based consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs) went down 26% over four years, while levels of care for their preventive medicine, chronic disease management and evidence-based treatments were higher than their counterparts in traditional PPO and HMO health plans, according to a new multi-year study of health care claims experience of 655,000 CIGNA customers.

The Fourth Annual CIGNA Choice Fund Experience Study is the latest evidence that more than any health reform proposal currently on the table, these innovative free market plans have been consistently proven to deliver actual quality, accessible health coverage at substantially lower costs.

“The empirical data is in and it’s undeniable: when health plans provide incentives for people to be engaged, their health care quality goes up and costs go down,” said CIGNA President and Chief Operating Officer, David M. Cordani. “CIGNA’s study shows that the incentives offered by consumer-driven plans — such as lower premiums, freedom of choice, and the ability to build up health savings — result in an immediate and sustained improvement in health care quality and lower costs.”

Key findings of the Fourth Annual CIGNA Choice Fund Experience Study include:

Immediate and sustainable cost savings: CDHP medical costs are 14% less than traditional plans the first year, cumulative cost savings rise to 19% in the second year, 23% in the third year and 26% in the fourth year.

Higher levels of care: People with CIGNA Choice Fund received recommended care at compliance rates that were similar or better than those covered by traditional CIGNA health plans. Key indicators such as use of preventive care, evidence-based care and disease management program participation were measurably better among those in CIGNA CDHPs than those in PPOs and HMOs.

Less cost for those with chronic conditions: Medical cost trend was substantially less for CIGNA Choice Fund customers with hypertension (27% less), joint disease (21% less), and diabetes (15% less), than for individuals with either of those diseases in traditional CIGNA health plans. According to the study data, these cost savings were achieved without sacrificing care.

According to Cordani, if the share of Americans enrolled in a CDHP rose from a current 18% to 50%, and the results of the CIGNA study were applied, the U.S. could achieve $350 billion dollars in savings over 10 years.

Chris Policinski, President and CEO of Land O’Lakes, Inc., noted: “Offering consumer driven health plans to Land O’Lakes employees is helping to keep health care costs in check, while maintaining or improving care quality. For Land O’Lakes, this approachsupports our commitment to employees, while at the same time ensuringthat we remain highly cost efficient.”

Customer: Engagement is Key

One of the nation’s premier agricultural cooperatives, Land O’Lakes, Inc., offers both CIGNA Choice Fund CDHP and traditional health plans. The company confirms that its employees are increasingly electing to enroll in the CDHP for cost savings — with eight of 10 employees choosing CDHP over traditional managed care plans.

“Since January 1, 2007, when our first CDHP was offered, our company and employees have saved more than $10 million in health plan costs,” said Land O’Lakes Director of Benefits and HR Operations Pamela Grove. “From 2006 to 2007, our health care trend decreased from 13% to negative 5% – a decrease of 18% year over year. Our employees are making smart choices: increasing their use of preventive care and the CIGNA 24-hour nurse line, as well as opting to use less-costly urgent care facilities or convenience care clinics rather than heading to the emergency room for non-emergency events.”

“We attribute this enormously successful enrollment to honest and open communication with employees coupled with consumer-focused information and tools,” said Grove. “That’s a strategy that we will continue to focus on and, so far, it has produced very impressive results.”

Individuals Making the Most of their Health Benefits

Noting the solid clinical compliance among those enrolled in CIGNA Choice Fund plans, CIGNA Chief Medical Officer, Jeffery Kang, M.D. said: “America is a land of smart shoppers, and what our study shows is given the right plans, tools and information, people will make rational, wise and successful health care decisions.”

Individuals enrolled in CIGNA Choice Fund plans continued to receive recommended care at the same or higher levels as those enrolled in traditional plans in an evaluation of compliance with 400 evidence-based measures of health care quality. In fact, first year Choice Fund customers had higher statistical compliance with 11% of evidence-based measures than their counterparts in traditional plans, and 16% higher for Choice Fund customers enrolled for multiple years.

Moreover, individuals with chronic illnesses covered by CIGNA Choice Fund plans are more engaged and more likely to comply with and complete their plan disease management programs. Disease management program follow-through and completion rates are 22% higher among those in CIGNA Choice Fund plans than their counterparts in traditional CIGNA managed care plans.

Preventive care visits for first-year CIGNA Choice Fund customers were an average of 16% greater when compared to traditional plans, with CDHP preventive care visits continuing at higher rates than those in traditional plans in the second year.

The trend in pharmacy costs for new CIGNA Choice Fund customers who also have their pharmacy benefits with CIGNA was cut by more than half when compared to those enrolled in traditional plans.

“CIGNA’s mission is to improve people’s health, well-being and sense of security;” said Dr. Kang. “During the past four years, CIGNA Choice Fund studies have consistently demonstrated that CDHPs are part of the solution for creating a more affordable, accessible, sustainable and high quality healthcare system.”




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