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Aetna releases broadest study to date of consumer-directed plans

Four-year study of 1.6 million members shows that Aetna HealthFund plans help control costs and increase consumer engagement

HARTFORD, Conn., Oct. 2, 2006 Aetna (NYSE: AET) announced today the results of the broadest study to date of consumer-directed plans -- a review of four years of data to determine the impact of consumer-directed health plans on 1.6 million Aetna members. This includes members in an Aetna HealthFund consumer-directed plan, as well as employees within the same employer groups who have chosen other benefits options. The study finds 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.

"We're very pleased to see many positive developments among employer groups who offer an Aetna HealthFund product. Most notably, we find lower medical costs and maintained or improved chronic and preventive care," said Aetna Chairman, CEO and President Ronald A. Williams. "The financial results achieved by full replacement plans are particularly significant - equating to a savings of $1 million per 1,000 members over a three-year period while still maintaining quality care."

Among the key study 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.

The study is a unique snapshot of how offering a consumer-directed plan as an option impacts all employees in a group, regardless of which plan they choose. The 1.6 million members studied include 134,000 HRA members from 99 employers, 18,000 HSA members from 27 employers, and 1.45 million Aetna members from those same employer groups who have chosen other benefits offerings. These members were compared to a population of 1.4 million Aetna PPO members comprised of all large employer groups. Four years of data was studied for HRA members, two years of data was studied for HSA members, and three years of data was studied for the comparison population.

"Aetna is committed to studying the impact of our consumer-directed plans. We want to gauge the performance of the plans we offer to our customers so that we can consistently enhance and improve our offerings. In addition, we are working to expand the body of knowledge around these relatively new products to increase understanding and adoption of consumer-directed plans," said Williams.

This is Aetna's third annual study of its HRA members and its first review of HSA members. It focused on answering several key questions - including who is choosing the plan, and the impact of the plan on cost of care and consumer behavior. Other notable findings included:

HSA members are saving money in their fund, with more than half (52 percent) rolling over their entire fund in 2005; approximately half (49 percent) of HRA members rolled over some or all of their fund in 2005.

Aetna HealthFund members accessed online tools more than twice as often as members of other plans, based on the experiences of five large employer groups.

The average age and family size of Aetna HealthFund members (31.6 average age, 2.2 average family size) is very similar to other employees included in the study (33.4 average age, 2.3 average family size).

Aetna launched its first-generation Aetna HealthFund HRA product in September 2001 and its Aetna HealthFund HSA product in December of 2003. Since its inception, the Aetna HealthFund family of products has expanded to include a wide variety of fund and account options meeting the unique needs of employers of all sizes and individuals. Aetna HealthFund leverages Aetna's unique resources, including one of the largest networks of physicians, dentists, hospitals, pharmacies and health professionals; its extensive experience in claims payment and administration of innovative health benefits; and the company's powerful online resources and self-service tools.

Aetna is one of the nation's leading diversified health care benefits companies, serving approximately 29.9 million people with information and resources to help them make better informed decisions about their health care. Aetna offers a broad range of traditional and consumer-directed health insurance products and related services, including medical, pharmacy, dental, behavioral health, group life, long-term care and disability plans, and medical management capabilities. Our customers include employer groups, individuals, college students, part-time and hourly workers, health plans and government-sponsored plans.

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