Cigna CEO Cordani: Time to shift focus away from 'sick' care to 'health' care

In order to drive down costs for consumers plagued with chronic diseases, it's imperative to provide them with access to both health insurance coverage and healthy behaviors.

Those sentiments came from panelists at a forum sponsored in Houston last week by USA TODAY and Cigna. The experts also stressed that given the aging population, the need for cost-control measurements is at an all-time high.

"Disruptions such as economic forces, an aging population and the rise of chronic disease are having enormous impact on healthcare systems around the world," Cigna CEO David Cordani said at the forum. "By shifting our emphasis from 'sick' care to 'health' care, we can promote better health, sustainability and economic vibrancy, while lowering the cost burden on consumers and on the entire healthcare system at the same time."

In a study released today by Cigna, the insurer examined costs for 200,000 customers in employer-sponsored plans between 2012 and 2014, and found that people with chronic conditions had higher healthcare expenses. For instance, the total cost for a customer with no chronic conditions was $3,024 a year, while out-of-pocket costs totaled an average of $2,204. But the total cost for someone with two or more chronic conditions was $11,940 a year, with out-of-pocket costs ramping up to $3,500.

But it's possible to keep these prices in check, Cigna notes, as long as patients manage their chronic conditions.

However, not all patients have access to programs that help patients moderate their health. And when diseases go unchecked, healthcare costs increase.

But as Cordani pointed out, workplaces can encourage healthy behavior, because they too have their own culture, peer pressure and the ability to communicate with many people at once, notes USA Today.

Elsewhere in the industry, Humana's CEO Bruce Broussard has expressed plans for the insurer to move away from its traditional role of having an episodic relationship with its members to a role that focuses on getting people healthy, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

For more:
- here's the USA Today article
- read the Cigna statement
- check out the study