December 2019

Engagement programs improve health and lower costs by 10%

A new study shows that Cigna’s health engagement incentive programs improve health outcomes while reducing total medical costs an average of 10%. These findings are based on the results of a three-year study of more than 210,000 customers enrolled in 28 employer-sponsored plans. For customers living with two or more chronic conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes, the total medical cost savings were even greater – an average of 13%.

“At Cigna, we are always looking for better and more effective ways to help our customers make better and more informed choices about their health and healthcare,” says Joan Harvey, senior vice president, consumer health engagement at Cigna. “By putting the customer at the center of all we do, and surrounding them with supportive, on-demand tools and resources to help them achieve their well-being goals, we’re able to deepen our customers’ engagement and keep them motivated over time, while improving their health and reducing costs.”

The goal of the study was to shed light on the impact of financial incentives in motivating individuals to take actions that would benefit their overall health. The study compared Cigna-administered health plans that offered financial incentives with their health engagement programs to Cigna plans that offered engagement programs without incentives.

Delivering better health outcomes
In addition to reduced total medical costs for employers, the results of the study showed that Cigna customers with access to health engagement incentive programs demonstrated increased involvement in their health. For example, according to the study, customers were:

  • Twice as likely to set a health coaching goal.
  • Twice as likely to achieve a health coaching goal.
  • 30% more likely to complete their biometric screening.

Customers also demonstrated improved health outcomes across biometric indicators, including:

  • Six times more likely to meet the body mass index (BMI) target of <30 kg/m2
  • Five times more likely to meet the blood pressure target of <140/90 mmHg
  • 45% more likely to meet the cholesterol target of <240 mg/dL
  • 30% more likely to meet the blood glucose target of <100 mg/dL (fasting) or 140 mg/dL (random)

“Our analysis provides a clear understanding of the power of health engagement incentive programs in motivating people to prioritize and take control of their total health,” says Julie McCarter, vice president, product solutions at Cigna. “Whether its digital health tools, onsite health services or support for everyday life stressors, Cigna is developing innovative solutions to help customers wherever they are in their personal health journey.”

Health Engagement Programs: A critical component of chronic disease prevention
Chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes are leading drivers of health care costs in the U.S. and are often influenced by lifestyle choices that may include smoking, unhealthy eating, lack of physical activity and alcohol use.1 In the U.S., smoking-related illness costs exceed $300 billion each year,2 low levels of physical activity are associated with $117 billion in annual health care costs3 and fewer than one in 10 adults and adolescents eat enough fruits and vegetables.4

Cigna's health engagement experts provide data-driven, personalized insights to design effective health engagement solutions for employers. Tailored programs incorporate the following:

  • Biometric screenings to set health goals.
  • Financial incentives to drive employee engagement
  • Trained coaches who are available to support an individual's overall health - body and mind.

Cigna's unique Life ConnectedSM approach to wellness examines motivation and engagement through five connected dimensions of well-being - physical, emotional, financial, environmental and social - to help employers support a healthy and productive workforce.

The Cigna study demonstrates the impact of incentives to drive health engagement. Customers earn financial rewards by completing activities such as a preventive exam with their primary care physician or working with a coach to set and achieve health goals. An example included in this study is an employer that offers $500 in premium contribution for meeting a Body Mass Index goal of 30 or less and a total cholesterol level of less than 240.

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  1. Do Incentives Drive Engagement, Health and Financial Outcomes? Incentives Study Refresh, Cigna Global Data & Analytics, November, 2018. Results may vary.
  2. Centers for Disease Control. About Chronic Diseases. Accessed 10/28/2019
  3. Centers for Disease Control. Tobacco Use. Accessed 10/28/2019
  4. Centers for Disease Control. Physical Activity. Accessed 10/28/2019
  5. Centers for Disease Control. Nutrition. Accessed 10/28/2019