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Selected research from leading health care experts whose findings have a direct bearing on public policies effecting medical progress. Research is chosen based on its quality and relevance by the Medical Progress Today editorial staff.

Selected Research

Aetna Releases Broadest Study to Date of Consumer Directed Plans
Aetna News, 10-2-06

Aetna has released a study of the effects of consumer–directed plans on its 1.6 million members. The study found that, "five years after the launch of Aetna HealthFund, 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." Among the study's other findings:

  • Full replacement plans see the most significant savings from Aetna HealthFund. Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) plans effective in January of 2003 experienced an average medical cost trend of 1 percent over three years, meaning that medical costs for these plans increased only 3 percent between 2002 and 2005.
  • Employers who offered Aetna HealthFund as an option are seeing savings across all products offered. Those who offered an HRA option plan effective in January of 2003 experienced an average medical cost trend of 6.7 percent over a three-year period.
  • Both Aetna HealthFund HRA and Health Savings Account (HSA) members with chronic conditions maintained or improved the level of care they received prior to joining the plan, including a 6 percent higher usage of inhaled steroids among asthmatics when compared to a similar population.
  • Preventive care was also maintained or improved. For example, first-year HSA members received cervical cancer screenings at a 13.8 percent higher rate than PPO members.
  • Generic drug utilization for HRA members was 4.5 percent higher than PPO members.


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