CIGNA Unveils New Ways to Reduce Disability, Medical Costs with 3 Programs

July 12, 2005

Employers who struggle to better manage lost time, reduce medical costs and improve productivity reportedly are increasingly looking for innovative yet practical ways to integrate their benefit products. Seeking solutions that will bring them closer to the rewards that can be achieved through total health management, employers are now beginning to gravitate toward a more packaged approach for disability, medical, pharmacy and behavioral health coverages.

To better serve this growing need, CIGNA Group Insurance now offers three new programs that leverage the health and behavioral care strengths of CIGNA and the case management expertise of its subsidiary company, Intracorp.

“Group disability and group life protection, when intelligently packaged with other health and productivity programs, can provide meaningful savings for employers, demonstrating the clear advantage of partnering with companies such as CIGNA, which combine outstanding disability insurance capabilities with industry leading health care benefits and expertise,” said Jay Menario, chief marketing officer, CIGNA Group Insurance.

Disability Solutions for Chronic Conditions

CIGNA Group Insurance is reportedly the only provider to offer medium-sized employers a stand-alone chronic care management program packaged with a disability or life product. Chronic health conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes, are the leading cause of disability in people over age 18. Medical costs for employees with these conditions are reportedly up to 18 times higher than the medical costs of other employees.

To help employees better manage these conditions, CIGNA Group Insurance has launched “Disability Solutions for Chronic Conditions,” a program for employers who purchase new CIGNA long-term disability and/or life insurance products. The program covers five leading chronic conditions: diabetes, cardiac disease, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and low back pain.

By focusing on controlling chronic conditions, employers can directly impact the number and length of disability claims, as well as the associated medical costs. For example, in a recent CIGNA study, participants in CIGNA’s cardiovascular disease and low back pain management programs reportedly experienced fewer disabilities with shorter durations. CIGNA’s chronic care programs also reportedly drive significant medical cost savings – from 10 to 20 percent per participant year over year.

“Employees on short-term disability make up 5 percent of all employees, but account for 35 percent of their employer’s medical costs,” said Menario. “Add to that the high cost of treating chronic conditions and the more time employees with these conditions miss from work, and it’s easy to see how this program naturally complements any disability management program.

“It’s simple for employees to participate in the program, but it’s also simple for employers to implement since there’s no medical claim data needed to get started,” added Menario. “Employees can self-enroll at any time.”

Once enrolled, chronic care nurses work directly with participants to conduct a health and disease-specific assessment and to develop a personalized care plan. Participants receive educational materials specific to their condition and around-the-clock access to clinicians if they need to discuss a particular health issue.

Employee Assistance Programs (EAP)

Recent studies indicate that stress and depression are costlier and more common problems than previously thought. In their lifetime, more than 32 million Americans will experience depression. Besides its effect on individuals and families, depression costs employers $44 billion a year in lost productive work time, according to a 2003 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

So that employers can better manage the physical and emotional needs of their workforce and improve productivity, CIGNA Group Insurance now offers a three-tiered employee assistance program with its group term life and group long-term disability coverages.

These programs range from services such as behavioral health counseling and wellness product discounts, to complete Employee Assistant Program (EAP) features with employer reporting and customized services that include lifestyle management programs such as smoking cessation.

EAPs also reportedly help employers save money. According to studies by the U.S. Department of Labor, $5 to $16 in health care costs can be saved for every $1 invested in an Employee Assistance program.

Onsite Case Management

Effective immediately, employers who want to retain control of administering their sick leave or short-term disability programs can purchase onsite disability management services through Intracorp, a subsidiary company of CIGNA. This is offered as part of the fully insured long-term disability coverage from CIGNA Group Insurance.

Through this program, an Intracorp nurse case manager or vocational rehabilitation counselor partners with the employer’s staff, dealing directly with ill or injured employees, treating physicians, and company medical and benefits staff to promote a safe and productive “stay at work” or early “return to work.” Nurses review all claims and provide clinical case management support for the initial claim review and for ongoing management of disability absences.

Employers with Intracorp’s on-site case management services have reportedly seen up to a 40 percent decrease in short-term disability durations when compared with traditional case management models.

Another reported benefit is the potential decrease in long-term disability claims, as nurses identify short-term disabilities that need more focused case management.

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