Newsroom | 15 October 2007

Cigna Analysis Shows Integrated Medical and Disability Programs Improve Return-to-Work Rates, Productivity

Latest study also confirms that chronic conditions continue to be the most common drivers of both medical and disability costs

Cigna Group Insurance
Jill Roman, 215-761-1489


PHILADELPHIA, October 15, 2007 - Individuals covered by Cigna's integrated medical and disability programs who have taken a short-term disability leave are more likely to return to work, according to newly released research by Cigna. In fact, the study shows marked improvement in return-to-work rates for these claimants of at least five percent and up to 37 percent, as compared to their counterparts in non-integrated, disability-only plans.

"Our analysis demonstrates that having a tight connection among Cigna's medical, behavioral and disability management programs yields better return-to-work results," said Allen Woolf M.D., chief medical officer for Cigna Group Insurance. "For employers, this translates into lower overall benefit costs and improved productivity. Most importantly, for individuals, it means a better health outcome and the opportunity to return to work sooner."

Dr. Woolf said that based on these findings, Cigna has extended the discounts it offers to employers who purchase both medical and disability programs from Cigna. The discounts include savings on both disability and health care coverage when these programs are purchased together.

Cigna's analysis demonstrates that employees with disability claims make up only a small percentage (five percent) of the total employee population yet represent 37 percent of total employee medical costs. Further, 80 percent of employees with disability claims also fall into the top 20 percent of health care spenders. This highlights the need to assist employees with disabilities, or potential disabilities, as a means to contain health care costs.

"Essentially, we are seeing a small percentage of the employee population - disability claimants with chronic- or lifestyle-related conditions - contributing to a large portion of medical expenses," said Jeff Kang M.D., chief medical officer for Cigna HealthCare. "Our early identification of at-risk employees, and proactive outreach to these employees, leads to a healthier, more productive workforce and also reduces costs."

More than 80 percent of employees included in the analysis who were disabled had chronic and/or lifestyle-related conditions. The most expensive and frequent conditions driving both medical and disability costs included musculoskeletal problems and heart disease. In this analysis, participants in Cigna's disease management programs for heart disease and low back pain had a lower rate of occurrence of disability and shorter duration for disabilities that did occur.

"Our goal at Cigna is to prevent chronic illness from occurring by helping people learn about and modify the health risks that contribute directly to the development of these illnesses," said Dr. Woolf. "But when these illnesses do occur, our disease management programs help our members better manage their condition, lessening the impact on their health, well-being and productivity. These programs are showing a positive return on investment and have proven to be effective in improving health outcomes and lowering medical costs for our customers."

Findings from the analysis also suggest that use of Family Medical Leave (FML) may help predict future disability claims. Employees on FML were five times more likely to have a subsequent short-term disability claim than those not on FML (24 percent vs. 4.5 percent). Further, those on FML for a family reason were 50 percent more likely to have a subsequent short-term disability claim for behavioral illness than those on FML for other reasons.

"Understanding the drivers of absence and disability can lead to cost savings and productivity improvements," said Dr. Woolf. "In fact, more than 60 percent of company chief financial officers see a strong link between health, productivity and the bottom line.1"

"Our integrated programs allow us to analyze the various facets of an individual's health and uncover clinical predictors early in the process to help us identify those at risk for a disability claim," explained Dr. Woolf. With that information Cigna is able to match at-risk individuals to health and wellness programs that are designed to prevent or manage conditions and achieve better outcomes and shorter disability durations.

For example, when an individual files a disability claim, a referral is automatically sent to Cigna's disease management program if applicable. In addition, all new disability claimants are offered a referral to Cigna's employee assistance program, if available. This interaction across the various behavioral, disability and health care programs at Cigna helps to ensure that the most appropriate resources are provided to the individual at the right time to achieve the best outcome possible.

"Employers have the opportunity to increase productivity and reduce absenteeism while providing their employees with a more comprehensive health benefits package through an integrated offering," said Dr. Doug Nemecek Cigna national medical director for behavioral health programs. "Cigna's approach to furthering the health and wellness of its members extends beyond the narrow view of just addressing a medical situation. Our programs are designed to help members address all their needs whether they are medical-, behavioral- or disability-related."


The analysis included claim data from 40 accounts, comprising 300,000 employees, over a two-year period. The 40 accounts included those that had integrated medical and disability benefits, those that had both medical and disability coverage through Cigna, but who did not integrate the programs, as well as Cigna Group Insurance- and Cigna HealthCare-only accounts.

About Cigna Group Insurance

"Cigna," the "Tree of Life" logo and "Cigna Group Insurance" are registered service marks of Cigna Intellectual Property, Inc., licensed for use by Cigna Corporation and its operating subsidiaries. Products and services are provided by such operating subsidiaries and not by Cigna Corporation.

Such operating subsidiaries include Life Insurance Company of North America and Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York. Cigna Group Insurance is one of the top five providers in disability management and insurance with solutions that focus on helping employees return to a productive work life as quickly and safely as possible.

About Cigna HealthCare

Cigna HealthCare, based in Bloomfield, Conn., provides medical benefits plans, dental coverage, behavioral health coverage, pharmacy benefits and products and services that integrate and analyze information to support consumerism and health advocacy. "Cigna HealthCare" is a registered service mark of Cigna Intellectual Property, Inc., licensed for use by Cigna Corporation (NYSE:CI) and its operating subsidiaries, including Connecticut General Life Insurance Company. Products and services are provided by such operating subsidiaries, and not by Cigna Corporation. For more information, visit

1 Integrated Benefits Institute, May 2006