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Insurers begin to embrace 'well care'

Aetna, Cigna: Time for healthcare to move from 'sick care,' focus on wellness

Insurers are ramping up efforts to encourage wellness and change how they pay for healthcare by using technology and clinical services to manage that care.

Senior Executive Vice President for Aetna Healthagen Joseph Zubretsky told USA Today that this initiative comes in the form of accountable care organizations (ACOs).

"Our vision for ACO 2.0 will add more emphasis on wellness," said Zubretsky. "We need to find new ways to support and encourage people to get well and stay well, and that will open doors to a whole range of services as we work together with providers to search for what works best for different people."

Zubretsky's comments come after the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services launched the Next Generation Accountable Care Organization, which gives participants more predictable financial targets and greater opportunities to coordinate care and engage beneficiaries. Ultimately, the goal is to determine whether stronger financial incentives for ACOs can improve health outcomes and reduce expenses of Medicare patients, FierceHealthcare reported.

Aetna has stepped up its game by offering free yoga and meditation classes to its staff. More than 13,000 of Aetna's 50,000 employees participate in the classes and report an average 28 percent reduction in stress.

Health insurers are doing what they can to shift their focus away from "sick care to more well care," Cigna CEO David Cordani told USA Today

For instance, in several cities, Cigna pays for doctors to have health coaches and other specialists in their offices that provide more comprehensive care management to patients, noted the article. Additionally, some of Cigna's health insurance exchange plans now include doctors who work with such specialists. Cigna also recommends that its corporate clients add healthier foods to cafeterias and to encourage walking and other activity while on the job.

Even though insurers continue to embrace and implement wellness programs, the country as a whole remains in a transitional state, Cordani said, noting that the health coach program only works with "like-minded physicians."

For more:
- here's the USA Today article

Related Articles:
CMS announces Next Generation accountable care organization model
Next Generation ACO model lauded by healthcare experts
Cigna: Consumers fear healthcare costs could dampen financial futures
Wellness programs improve health, cut costs
Rethink the link between insurance premiums and wellness programs