NU Online News Service, Feb. 17, 2004, 5:48 p.m. EST – Aetna Inc., Hartford, says its defined contribution health plans are getting good results.[@@]

Aetna began enrolling large numbers of employees in its HealthFund defined contribution program plans in 2003. The plans combine high-deductible health coverage with personal health accounts.

Aetna compared claims for about 14,000 workers who belonged to the HealthFund plans for the first 9 months of 2003 with claims for the same workers for the first 9 months of 2002, when the workers were in conventional health plans.

Aetna found that medical costs increased an average of only 1.5% between 2002 and 2003 for the workers in the HealthFund plans, while medical costs increased more than 10% for workers in conventional plans.

Because workers in the HealthFund plans were more likely to use generic drugs, their pharmacy costs dropped 6.5%.

More than half of HealthFund plan members had fund dollars left in their accounts at the end of 2003, and 31% of the health account contributions rolled over.