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Cigna: Health accounts cut first-year costs

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Cigna Corp. (NYSE:CI) says it has evidence that use of a health account plan can lead to sharp reductions in an employer’s medical cost trend.

The company recently compared the claims experience of about 2.5 million employer plan enrollees who have traditional preferred provider organization (PPO) coverage, traditional health maintenance organization (HMO) coverage, or health coverage that includes either a health savings account (HSA) or a health reimbursement arrangement (HRA).

Enrollees in the health account plans lowered their level of health risk while reducing total medical costs, the company said.

Cigna health account plan medical cost trend was 13 percent lower than at traditional plans during the first year.

Costs were 20 percent lower for HSA customers and 11 percent lower for HRA participants.

The employers achieved the cost reductions without employers having to shift out-of-pocket health expenses to the employees, Cigna said.

The company noted that 75 percent of the HSA plan customers are contributing more to their accounts than they spend.

The health account plan enrollees were more likely to participate in wellness programs and health assessments and were 59 percent more likely to use their plans’ medical cost information tools.

The health account plan enrollees also sought preventive care, such as annual office visits and mammograms, more frequently than customers enrolled in traditional plans, the company said.

Enrollment in Cigna health account plans grew 26 percent in 2012, and about 20 percent of Cigna employer plan enrollees have an HSA or HRA, the company said.

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