Consumer-driven health care got another booth recently with therelease of the latest study of health care claims and utilizationby Aetna. The study finds employers that replaced their traditionalhealth benefits plans with Aetna HealthFund consumer-directed health plans saved $21.5 million over afive-year period for every 10,000 members.


The study also shows members of CDHPs accessed more preventivecare and screenings than people with traditional preferred providerorganization plans. In addition, Aetna HealthFund plan members aremore engaged health care consumers and continue to get the carethey need.


The study, which is the longest-running review of CDHPs in theindustry, includes more than 2 million Aetna members. The studycompares people with PPOs and those with Aetna HealthFund plans,which consist of health savings accounts and health reimbursementarrangements. When compared to PPO members, HSA members used onlinetools to look up cost information nearly three times as often andtook a health assessment twice as often.


While Aetna says companies that switched completely to CDHPsreaped the highest cost savings, those that offered AetnaHealthFund HRA and HSA plans as one option still experience savingsof $9 million over five years for every 10,000 members enrolled inall health plan options. Among other findings, a member in CDHplans on average:

  • Spent 12 percent more on preventive care and accessed higher levels of screenings forbreast and cervical cancer compared to members in PPO plans. Inparticular, diabetics in the Aetna HealthFund plans accessedscreenings at higher rates than diabetic members in PPO plans;
  • Visited the emergency room for non-urgent care 5 percent lessthan members in a PPO plan; and
  • Used the prescription drugs to treat chronic conditions, suchas diabetes, heart failure, high blood pressure and highcholesterol, at rates similar to PPO members.

HSAs Continue to Produce More Savings thanHRAs


The results also show HSAs continue to demonstrate more dramaticsavings than HRAs. HSA members had 15 percent lower primary carephysician utilization for non-routine visits, which may include acold or sore throat, 11 percent lower specialist utilization and 9percent lower overall medical costs in 2009.


The Aetna HealthFund study also provides employers with examplesof how to maximize the potential of their consumer-driven plan,including:

  • Designing a plan that includes appropriate levels of memberresponsibility;
  • Encouraging employees to enroll in the CDHP option by loweringthe employees' contribution levels or increasing the amount offunds 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.

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