Consumer-driven plans shift behaviors to cut costs


Members enrolled in consumer-driven health plans (CDHP) have a greater feeling of ownership over their healthcare and shift their health-related behaviors, which leads to lower costs, according to a new study from Cigna.

The Bloomfield, Conn.-based insurer has more than 2.6 million members enrolled in a CDHP, 50 percent of whom were more likely to complete a health risk assessment than members in traditional policies. And CDHP members who had a chronic condition were 41 percent more likely to use one of Cigna's disease management programs.

Cigna's study also found 75 percent of CDHP members signed up to access an online patient portal or mobile app. Plus, CDHP members are 82 percent more likely to use online tools to manage their coverage benefits and access cost, care quality and procedure information to choose highly-rated, cost-efficient providers.

CDHP members also used the emergency room at a 5 percent lower rate than consumers in traditional plans, Cigna noted.

"Constraining healthcare costs doesn't have to mean shifting costs from one area to another," Matt Manders, president of Regional and Operations at Cigna, said Wednesday in a a statement released alongside the study. "Over the past eight years, we at Cigna have seen that by improving healthcare quality and transparency, and by incentivizing healthy behaviors, we reduce the total cost by shifting behaviors, rather than shifting costs."

Employers are saving with these plans too, and many are seeing 12 percent cost savings in the first year of switching to consumer-driven policies. Cigna reported its employers share in $7,900 cumulative savings per employee over five years. The City of Lakewood, Colo., shifted to consumer-driven plans and found that employees only increased their health spending by 2 percent while generic drug usage rose from 73 percent to 81 percent.

CDHPs are becoming increasingly popular among employers largely because of the cost savings, which can average more than $84,000 per employee when coupled with a health savings account, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

To learn more:
- here's the Cigna study (.pdf) and statement

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