Cigna addresses misconceptions about consumer-driven health plans

For the most part, consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs) have a history of being more effective at reducing costs than traditional plans. Yet there also have been common misconceptions about CDHPs, according to a new white paper from Cigna.

For instance, some industry experts felt CDHPs were a tactic that employers used to shift more costs onto employees. On the contrary, though, a CDHP is supposed to reduce what consumers pay for healthcare services. Because CDHP deductibles are higher than those offered by PPO and HMO plans, consumers often think twice about the care they receive and shift their behavior in order to keep costs down.

In its white paper, Cigna details what happened when a group of more than 50 employers transitioned from traditional plans to full-replacement CDHPs in 2011. The company offered only the health reimbursement account (HRA) or health savings account (HSA) to each employee population.

Here are some of Cigna's findings:

  • In the studied population, there was a 10 percent health risk score improvement in the first year of moving to a Cigna CDHP.
  • Since 2006, Cigna has experienced double-digit total medical cost savings for CDHP members.
  • CDHPs are not, in fact, causing individuals with chronic conditions to avoid care.
  • Enrollees in HSAs had a greater decrease in costs than those in HRAs, especially for outpatient services and prescription drug use.
  • Consumers who contribute a greater amount to their health accounts appear to better manage their health benefits.

Cigna expects CDHPs to become more prevalent as they represent an active way to help consumers manage their health benefits, according to the white paper. What's more, enrollment in CDHPs continues to grow, hitting an all-time high of 23 percent in 2014, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

For more:
- here's the white paper (.pdf)

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