CIGNA Finds 8% CDHP Cost Savings

February 9, 2006 ( - A new CIGNA study of participants in its consumer-directed health plans (CDHP) found that 42,000 first-time users enjoyed an 8% medical cost reduction and began a healthier lifestyle.

A CIGNA news release said the study found the savings covered total medical costs excluding prescription drug expenses for those enrolled in a CIGNA Choice Fund plan. Among those in a traditional HMO or PPO plan, the costs were up by about 4%, according to CIGNA.

Changes in health care spending were driven by a reduction in both inpatient and outpatient facility costs, which declined approximately 5% and 12% respectively, when compared to the prior period. Inpatient and outpatient facility costs for CIGNA Choice Fund enrollees were also lower when compared to costs for members of the control group who were enrolled in a traditional plan. Importantly, while overall costs decreased for these services, the actual number of admissions increased compared to the prior period, according to the research.

The study indicated that when compared to the prior period, CIGNA Choice Fund members who had prescription drug coverage through CIGNA HealthCare significantly increased their usage of medications used to control:

  • diabetes (+18%)
  • asthma (+ 8%)
  • high cholesterol (+23%)
  • heart attacks (+18%).

They were also more discerning in their use of some types of prescription medications for which alternatives are available over-the-counter, such as medications for migraines (-4%) and anti-ulcer drugs (-7%), the study said.

Notably, the total days supply of prescription drugs obtained by CIGNA Choice Fund members increased compared to the prior period, but the cost per day for the medications decreased. Costs for prescription drugs for CIGNA Choice Fund members, while increasing compared to the prior period, were 5% less than the costs for the control group of members enrolled in a traditional plan.

CIGNA’s study included two separate analyses: the first comparing the claims experience of 42,200 continuously enrolled members before and after their switch in 2005 from a traditional HMO or PPO plan to one of CIGNA HealthCare’s health reimbursement account (HRA) or health savings account (HSA) plans, and the other comparing this group’s health care costs and utilization patterns to a control group of 140,200 members enrolled in a traditional HMO or PPO plan from the same employer groups’ populations.