Cigna Puts a Premium on Cancer Prevention

Christopher Cheney, April 30, 2014

As model payment for healthcare services moves from fee-for-service to a system based on value, the health insurer Cigna is putting an emphasis on colon cancer prevention measures.

"A pound of prevention is worth an ounce of cure." – Benjamin Franklin

One of the worst perversions of fee-for-service medical care is the under valuing of prevention.

In the real world of human suffering, prevention is the ultimate value proposition. Preventing illness not only improves quality of life but also cuts treatment costs.

This concept is clearly on display at Bloomfield, CT-based Cigna, which began ramping up its efforts to increase colorectal cancer screening rates among its members in 2005. "At the time, our screening rates were comparable to what the national rates were, so there was room for improvement," Kathryn Pierce, director of clinical initiatives at Cigna, told me. "Colon cancer can be prevented or easily treated if detected early."

According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, and the disease is expected to kill 50,310 Americans this year.

Cigna's Colorectal Cancer Screening Program is making a difference. Last year, the company documented a 23.7 percent year-over-year increase in screening rates. Any boost in screening rates has the potential to save lives. And Cigna is cutting costs by paying for home test kits that indicate whether members should undergo more expensive testing such as a colonoscopy, which has an average cost of $1,185 in the United States.

Christopher Cheney

Christopher Cheney is the senior finance editor at HealthLeaders Media.

Facebook icon
LinkedIn icon
Twitter icon