If Time is Money, Then Many Americans Could Save More on Health Care
Cigna Offers Tips for Open Enrollment
BLOOMFIELD, Conn., September 28, 2009 - How much time does the average person spend reviewing their health care insurance when it's time to enroll or reenroll in a plan? A recent survey conducted for Cigna shows that although 78 percent said they give it a lot or some consideration, almost half (46%) of those who say they're responsible for the review spend less than 30 minutes on the task. In comparison, according to one report, individuals spend an estimated four hours researching a computer purchase, five hours researching a vacation and eight hours researching a car purchase.1
Moreover, the Cigna survey showed that people ranked their health care plan as the least understood among several different common household contracts -- in fact more people said they understood their mortgage agreement better than their health plan.
"Let's face it, health care insurance isn't top of mind for most people until they need to use it," said Ingrid Lindberg, Cigna's chief customer experience officer. "But 'speed dating' your health plan means you might miss out on the options that could be best for you and your family. As people sign up for their employers' health plans this fall, we're encouraging them to spend a little extra time to 'get to know' their health plan."
Lindberg said that starts with knowing what the plan includes and doesn't include, learning about ways to find savings, and taking advantage of the help that's available. As millions of people prepare to make decisions about their benefits, and as health care costs continue to be top of mind for many, Cigna is offering tips and tools to help boost people's understanding about the plans they are purchasing and the help available to them to save money on their health care.
Spend Time Online to Save
When asked how much they would need to save to make it worthwhile to spend 30 minutes on a Web site comparing costs of medicines or other health care services, 64 percent said they'd be willing to spend the time online to save $100 or less. Twenty-four percent said they would need to save at least $250 or more.
"Many people may not realize that the quality and cost of their health care can vary widely depending on which doctor, hospital, pharmacy or medication they choose," said Dr. Jeff Kang, chief medical officer for Cigna. "What's more, 'high cost' doesn't necessarily equal 'high quality' when it comes to health care. More information to compare cost, quality and treatment options is available to people than ever before. Many health plans have Web-based comparison tools that people can use to do a little research ahead of time if it's not an urgent situation."
Kang said time spent online can lead to savings of hundreds of dollars on things like prescription drugs, MRIs and elective hospital stays. For example, people who use a generic medication instead of a more costly brand name drug could save an average of $200 per year, per prescription. People who compare the cost of an MRI scan could, on average, save up to $150 on the amount they pay by picking the most cost-effective facility.
Healthy Lifestyle Might Help You Save or Earn
More and more companies are using incentives to encourage their employees to live healthy lifestyles. What do people think about that? According to the survey, Americans are divided almost equally among those who say people should receive a financial reward for doing the right things to be healthy (33 percent); those who say people should have to pay more when they do things that aren't healthy (27 percent); and those who say there shouldn't be any financial difference one way or the other (32 percent).
Dr. Charlie Smith, chief medical officer for Cigna national accounts, notes one person's health incentive "carrot" may be another's "stick," but either way the number of plans that contain these incentives and disincentives are on the rise. The key, says Dr. Smith, is to make those programs work for you.
"By embracing healthier behaviors, individuals may be able to save money on premiums if they don't smoke or enroll in a program to stop smoking," Smith said. "Or they might get money back for completing a health assessment, enrolling in a health coaching program for weight or stress management, or managing a chronic condition to stay well. People should check if any of these incentives are available, and take advantage of them as a way to save money and also earn better health."
More Help, in More Ways
Making health plan decisions and navigating the enrollment process can be confusing, but there is help available. Lindberg said that many health plans have pre-enrollment telephone lines people can call if they have questions, and many also offer support through online tools, including cost comparison tools.
Here are a few tips from Cigna to help make open enrollment easier:
To learn more about health care and earn rewards for learning, visit Cigna's new fun and free educational Web site for the general public at www.cigna.com/learn4yourhealth.
About the Survey
This survey was sponsored by Cigna to determine consumers' understanding of health care, generally, and their health care coverage, specifically. This report presents the findings of a telephone survey conducted among a national probability sample of 1,001 adults comprising 502 men and 499 women 18 years of age and older, living in private households in the continental United States. The survey was carried out by Opinion Research Corporation using their CARAVAN® telephone sampling methodology. Interviewing was completed during the period of July 23-26, 2009. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points for values at or near 50 percent, given a 95 percent confidence interval.
Cigna (NYSE:CI), a global health service company, is dedicated to helping people improve their health, well-being and sense of security. Cigna Corporation's operating subsidiaries provide an integrated suite of medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy and vision care benefits, as well as group life, accident and disability insurance, to approximately 46 million people throughout the United States and around the world. To learn more about Cigna, visit www.cigna.com. To sign up for email alerts or an RSS feed of company news, log on to www.cigna.com/newsroom/register.
1 Americans Spend More Time Researching a Car Purchase than Their Home Loan, According to Recent Zillow.com Survey, PRNewswire, April 3, 2008
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