A recent study shows that significant benefits are possible through the use of online programs to help patients on Individual and Family Health Plans manage chronic conditions. The study was conducted by HealthMedia, Inc. and Highmark Inc. and published in the latest edition of the American Journal of Health Promotion.
The study found that online programs empower patients to better manage a host of chronic condition, saving money on individual health plans overall.
Details of the Study
The study specifically looked at individuals who utilized an online digital coaching program for managing chronic conditions like asthma, diabetes and hypertension. These conditions have a serious impact on the American workforce, with more than 1,200 work days lost each year for every 1,000 employees. These absences end up costing employers billions of dollars each year and may affect the cost of individual health insurance as well.
The participants in the program were compared to other patients who did not participate in the program, allowing an accurate comparison to be made between the costs of individual health plans for each group.
The study took place over a five-year period and analyzed the members of the online coaching program to determine their ability to manage their conditions and their overall health. The study found that up to 93% of the members seemed to be better equipped at managing their health conditions, which can reduce the number of emergency visits and the cost to individual and family health plans.
If chronic conditions are more efficiently managed, the entire cost to the health care system, including individual health insurance, goes down significantly. In fact, the study showed about a $757 annual savings on individual health insurance costs between participants in the program and non-participants.
In addition to learning to manage a specific condition more efficiently, those who participated in the study were also more likely to get other types of preventative care. For example, members of the study were 35% more likely to get flu shots, 16% more likely to get annual PAP smears and 34% more apt to undergo fecal occult blood testing.
When patients receive annual preventative care, the cost of individual health plans also decreases, as some diseases are caught in the earlier, more treatable stages. Preventative care is an important component in the Affordable Care Act because of its ability to lower individual health plan costs across the board.
Online health management programs are becoming much more popular today, as they allow patients to more efficiently manage their health conditions from the comfort and privacy of home. The types of online programs vary, but most include information about the specific conditions, health and nutrition advice and medical guidelines in terms of preventative care and other important tests and procedures.
For those with chronic conditions, an online community offers the help and support they require – all without the need for as many doctor and emergency room visits. In addition, this preventative support lowers costs on individual health plans overall.