Aggressively managing care for patients who suffer from a combination of severe physical and mental health problems can help cut care costs.

Researchers at Aetna Inc., Hartford, have published those findings in an analysis of an Aetna case management program for 4,600 patients who suffer conditions such as diabetes along with conditions such as depression.

Enrollees who filled out a standard questionnaire said they felt better and were working 3 more days per month than they had been working before they entered the program.

Total monthly claims costs were $136 lower for program enrollees than for comparable patients who were not in the program, even though pharmacy costs were $39 higher, the Aetna researchers report.