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Study: Consumer-driven health plans cut costs, improve health
By Insure.com staff

Consumer-driven health insurance plans, which encourage people to be more proactive in deciding how to spend their health care dollars, are cutting costs and promoting better health, according to a study of health claims by Cigna, a global health service company.

The "Eighth Annual Cigna Choice Fund Experience Study" compares the claims experience of more than 3.6 million Cigna customers who are enrolled in either a consumer-driven health plan or a traditional preferred provider organization or health maintenance organization plan.

The consumer-driven plan features a higher-than-average deductible and an accompanying savings account. The member can use money in the account for out-of-pocket medical expenses. Unused money in the account carries over year to year, encouraging people to save and spend wisely.

The study found that medical expenses were 12 percent less for members of the consumer-driven health plan than for members of traditional PPO or HMO plans. People enrolled in the consumer-driven health plan were also more likely to comply with evidence-based medical best practices, lower their health risks and participate in health improvement programs. 

Cigna said the cost savings were achieved without employers shifting out-of-pocket expenses to employees.

"Constraining health care costs doesn't have to mean shifting costs from one area to another," Matt Manders, Cigna's president for regional and operations, said in a press statement. "Over the past eight years, we at Cigna have seen that by improving health care quality and transparency, and by incentivizing healthy behaviors, we reduce the total cost by shifting behaviors, rather than shifting costs."

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