Cigna's use of health coaches leads to lower premiums

By offering financial incentives to employees that use health coaches, Cigna found beneficiaries can control their weight, blood pressure and other chronic conditions, leading to lower premiums for all beneficiaries, according to the Hartford Courant.

After reviewing 200,000 customers, the insurer found those with multiple chronic conditions involving weight, high blood sugar, high blood pressure and high cholesterol contributed more than $9,000 in additional healthcare costs each year. Out of pocket costs were as high as $3,500.

In light of those increased costs, Cigna urged employers to offer incentives ranging from $200 to $1,000 to convince employees to utilize health coaches. The insurer found employers that offered such incentives saw total premiums decline $360 per employee, even for people who didn't have chronic conditions.

Cigna's CEO, David Cordani, a triathlete who recently ran the Boston Marathon, backs up his calls for improved wellness by exercising an hour each day during the week, and as much as two hours on the weekend. He acknowledged that wellness is not a "one-size-fits all recipe," adding that even brisk walks can combat chronic conditions.

Even small gains, such as a 5 percent shift in employees from high-risk to medium risk, can lead to measurable savings in the long run, he told the Courant.

Other insurers, like Humana, have pushed plans to transition from episodic care to making health "easy" through virtual tools that help beneficiaries monitor their health. Amid concerns about the legality of some wellness programs, insurance executives have underscored the need to reward good behavior and engage consumers in order to strengthen wellness initiatives.

For more:
- read the Hartford Courant article

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