NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


October 5, 2006

Aetna recently announced the results of an analysis of four years' worth of data from its consumer-driven health plan, called HealthFund.  In addition to those in HealthFund, the 1.6 million Aetna enrollees also included employees who had chosen traditional Preferred Provider Options (PPO) options in employer plans.

Aetna found that consumer-directed plans consistently result in lower medical costs, maintained or improved levels of chronic and preventive care, and increased usage of generic medications and consumer tools and information.

Other findings:

  • For the "full-replacement" plans -- where all workers were required to switch to HealthFund -- the three-year increase in medical costs was only 3 percent.
  • By contrast, those in PPO plans saw their 3-year medical costs increase 27 percent.
  • Employers that offered both HealthFund HRAs and other insurance saw average cost increases of 6.7 percent a year for a 3-year increase of about 20 percent.
  • HealthFund enrollees sought care for chronic conditions at a higher rate than PPO enrollees; they were also more apt to use preventative care and generic drugs.

The lower costs associated with HealthFund was not due to younger patients, or a disproportionate amount of males or families without children.  Those enrolling in HealthFund were nearly the same age, on average (31.6 vs. 33.4).  They were also closely balanced in terms of male/female ratio and the family size.  HealthFund enrollees were also more apt to use online tools to better manage their conditions.

Source: "Aetna Releases the Broadest Study to Date on Consumer-Directed Plans," Aetna, October 2, 2006; and "Making a Difference: Aetna HealthFund," Aetna, September 2006.   

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