Consumer-driven health care got another booth recently with the release of the latest study of health care claims and utilization by Aetna. The study finds employers that replaced their traditional health benefits plans with Aetna HealthFund consumer-directed health plans saved $21.5 million over a five-year period for every 10,000 members.
The study also shows members of CDHPs accessed more preventive care and screenings than people with traditional preferred provider organization plans. In addition, Aetna HealthFund plan members are more engaged health care consumers and continue to get the care they need.
The study, which is the longest-running review of CDHPs in the industry, includes more than 2 million Aetna members. The study compares people with PPOs and those with Aetna HealthFund plans, which consist of health savings accounts and health reimbursement arrangements. When compared to PPO members, HSA members used online tools to look up cost information nearly three times as often and took a health assessment twice as often.
While Aetna says companies that switched completely to CDHPs reaped the highest cost savings, those that offered Aetna HealthFund HRA and HSA plans as one option still experience savings of $9 million over five years for every 10,000 members enrolled in all health plan options. Among other findings, a member in CDH plans on average:
- Spent 12 percent more on preventive care and accessed higher levels of screenings for breast and cervical cancer compared to members in PPO plans. In particular, diabetics in the Aetna HealthFund plans accessed screenings at higher rates than diabetic members in PPO plans;
- Visited the emergency room for non-urgent care 5 percent less than members in a PPO plan; and
- Used the prescription drugs to treat chronic conditions, such as diabetes, heart failure, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, at rates similar to PPO members.
HSAs Continue to Produce More Savings than HRAs
The results also show HSAs continue to demonstrate more dramatic savings than HRAs. HSA members had 15 percent lower primary care physician utilization for non-routine visits, which may include a cold or sore throat, 11 percent lower specialist utilization and 9 percent lower overall medical costs in 2009.
The Aetna HealthFund study also provides employers with examples of how to maximize the potential of their consumer-driven plan, including:
- Designing a plan that includes appropriate levels of member responsibility;
- Encouraging employees to enroll in the CDHP option by lowering the employees' contribution levels or increasing the amount of funds in the account;
- Communicating and educating members on how to use the plans; and
- Offering wellness programs and incentives for healthy behaviors.
For more detailed information about the study, click here.