Aetna Empowers Members to Maximize Their Health Benefits and Minimize Their Personal Expenses

Jan 08 2009
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— New Research Shows That 71 Percent of Insured Americans Are Willing To Shop for Health Care Savings of $250 Annually —

HARTFORD, Conn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–As the economy worsens, an increasing number of Americans (71 percent) say that they would be willing to shop for health care to save themselves as little as $250 annually, according to a new survey of insured Americans released today by Aetna (NYSE: AET). In response, Aetna is launching an educational campaign to help its members potentially save thousands of dollars a year on their health care spending by making some simple changes to their health care purchasing habits.

“We are seeing a fundamental shift in consumer purchasing of health care,” said Laurie Brubaker, head of Integrated Health and Productivity Solutions for Aetna. “The weaker economy has made Americans more willing to shop around for savings. In fact, nearly a quarter say that they are more likely now than a year ago to ask about the cost of health care services before receiving them.”

The educational campaign includes new web resources for both members and non-members at, resources for Aetna customers to share with their employees, and print and online advertising. Aetna conducted a survey of insured Americans in December 2008 to identify issues related to the economy and health care spending, and used the feedback to inform its efforts. Among the survey findings:

  • Overall, nearly 60 percent of Americans say that they would be willing to actively shop for health care to save money in the next year. When asked about specific savings, 71 percent are willing to shop for savings of $250, 77 percent for $500, 81 percent for $750, and 85 percent for $1,000 or more annually.
  • Families with children at home are more concerned about saving money:
    • 76 percent of families with children are willing to shop around for health care in order to save money (compared to 52 percent of families without children);
    • 48 percent of families with children have delayed getting non-urgent care to save money (compared to 22 percent of families without children);
    • 32 percent of families with children have asked about the specific cost of a service before receiving it (compared to 16 percent of families without children).
  • Nearly one in five Americans has stopped taking a medication because it was too expensive, in spite of the fact that 73 percent of Americans agree that prescription drugs reduce health care costs by reducing illness.
  • While 94 percent of Americans agree that preventive care reduces health care costs by preventing illnesses, many are not taking advantage of free or low-cost preventive services that may be available to them under their health plan like coverage for mammograms (53 percent), Pap smears (41 percent), and colonoscopies (71 percent).
  • One in 10 Americans is planning to delay discretionary care in the next year, including treatments for back pain, bunions and sleeping disorders.

“We were most concerned to learn that Americans are skimping on their health in order to save money, particularly in areas like preventive care and prescription medications,” said Lonny Reisman, M.D., Aetna Chief Medical Officer. “That’s why we’re educating our members that preventive care, including well-baby and well-woman visits, as well as routine health screenings and immunizations, is either covered at 100 percent or available at low cost in most Aetna plans. There are also a number of ways to lower prescription drug costs that are well worth discussing with your physician.”

Aetna’s web resources and advertisements offer quick tips for saving money while maintaining good health. These tips include seeking care within Aetna’s network of more than 500,000 participating physicians, accessing free or low-cost preventive services such as mammograms and colonoscopies, choosing generic prescription drugs where appropriate, and taking advantage of discounts for common services such as gym memberships, LASIK surgery and nutritional counseling. A flyer featuring eight ways that Aetna members can save money on their health care is available at The website also includes information on managing stress, eating healthy on a budget and securing health benefits after a layoff.

“The bottom line is that Aetna members who play an active role in shopping for health care can potentially put thousands of dollars back into their own pockets,” said Brubaker.

In addition to online information specific to Aetna members, Aetna offers general health benefits and financial planning information at Plan for Your Health, a partnership of Aetna and the Financial Planning Association, is currently helping consumers weather the economic downturn with tips for saving money on health care and advice for securing health benefits in the wake of a job loss.

About the Survey

Results are based on a survey conducted by DSS Research of 290 insured adults. Qualified respondents were at least 24 years old with commercial health insurance or Medicare (adults 65 and older). All data were collected via an online survey using an FGI consumer panel on Dec. 10, 2008.

About Aetna

Aetna is one of the nation’s leading diversified health care benefits companies, serving approximately 37.2 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 and disability plans, and medical management capabilities and health care management services for Medicaid plans. Our customers include employer groups, individuals, college students, part-time and hourly workers, health plans, governmental units, government-sponsored plans, labor groups and expatriates. For more information, see



Elizabeth H. Sell, 215-775-5523

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