- Leading health plans like CIGNA consistently provide higher quality care than traditional fee- for-service plans.
- Success in the future must focus on new ways to reward doctors and other health care professionals for quality.
WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Leaders from the health care industry discussed health care quality, efficiency, and costs – and innovations to improve them – during a news briefing today on the National Committee for Quality Assurance’s (NCQA’s) annual report on the State of Health Care Quality in the United States.
CIGNA Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jeffrey Kang, one of the experts who spoke at the briefing, said that accountable health plans like CIGNA that measure and publicly report on the quality of care and service are providing value and have improved health care quality over time. Kang said NCQA data shows that CIGNA customers consistently received higher quality care when compared to traditional fee-for-service (or indemnity) health plans.
“As health care reform moves forward, policy-makers continually ask about the value that health plans add. This data shows that health service organizations like CIGNA consistently help improve care above and beyond what people would receive in a traditional fee-for-service system,” Kang said.
Kang also said he believes that future quality improvement efforts must focus on creating more incentives that encourage and reward health care professionals for raising the bar on quality.
“Now is the time to couple consumer education efforts with new ways to move us forward. We are already at work to provide incentives that encourage and reward health care professionals for working together to make sure that nobody falls through the cracks as they get care from different doctors, specialists and hospitals,” Kang said. “CIGNA has pilot programs in multiple states to help us test the effectiveness of these new ways of coordinating care and rewarding doctors who deliver high quality care.”
CIGNA's patient-centered programs include multi-payer medical home pilots in Colorado, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Vermont, as well as CIGNA-only collaborative accountable care pilots in Connecticut, Georgia, Maine, Missouri, New Hampshire, Tennessee and Texas.
Kang said that education and awareness programs that reach and remind people about the importance of getting preventive screenings or complying with their doctor’s treatment plan have been, and will continue to be, essential to improving quality. As one example, CIGNA will remind approximately 600,000 people this year to get a colorectal cancer screening. He added that CIGNA is a strong supporter of the new preventive care benefits that will be available to people as a part of health care reform and that CIGNA believes that further education and more coverage will help remove health care barriers for millions of people.
”The numbers in this report represent people whose lives are directly affected by our collective efforts to improve quality,” Kang said. “When we do it well, we save lives, keep people out of the hospital, help them to be healthier and more vital and we address the root causes of high costs. Improving health care quality happens by design. I’m proud of the gains that the report shows -- and proud of CIGNA's contributions to those gains.”
CIGNA plans continued to post gains in health care quality in 2010, with year-over-year improvements in about 73 percent of the HMO/point of service measures tracked by NCQA, according to a CIGNA analysis of the NCQA data. For example, gains included more people getting screened for colorectal cancer, more people having good control of their cholesterol and more people with diabetes being tested for blood glucose levels.
What’s the value of people receiving recommended, quality care? CIGNA estimates it’s about $451 per person, per year, according to a mathematical model CIGNA developed to demonstrate the cost savings that can be attributed to quality care. The CIGNA model estimates direct medical costs and indirect costs of lost productivity avoided because an individual received appropriate care, and compares them to the cost of that care, such as the cost of an office visit and/or certain test or procedures. Based on CIGNA's 2009 data, the total savings attributable to compliance with these evidence-based standards of care is estimated to be approximately $197 in direct medical costs and $254 in indirect productivity savings per person, per year. CIGNA will update these figures this fall with newly available 2010 data.
CIGNA has participated in the NCQA program of measurement and accreditation for HMO and point of service plans for many years, and in 2004 became the first national health plan to voluntarily commit to measuring and reporting on quality for its PPO and Open Access Plus plans. CIGNA has provided this information to NCQA annually since 2006. Its efforts helped NCQA to establish national benchmarks for quality in these plans, making it possible for many more people to use NCQA “report cards” on health plan quality.
CIGNA (NYSE: CI) is a global health service and financial company dedicated to helping people improve their health, well-being and sense of security. CIGNA Corporation's operating subsidiaries in the United States provide an integrated suite of health services, such as medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy and vision care benefits, as well as group life, accident and disability insurance. CIGNA offers products and services in over 27 countries and jurisdictions and has approximately 60 million customer relationships throughout the world. To learn more about CIGNA, visit www.cigna.com. To sign up for email alerts or an RSS feed of company news, log on to http://newsroom.cigna.com/rss. Also, follow us on Twitter at @cigna, visit CIGNA’s YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/cignatv and listen to CIGNA's podcast series with healthy tips and information at http://www.cigna.com/podcasts or by searching "CIGNA" in iTunes.
Amy Turkington, 440-934-5385
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