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CIGNA and Merck partner to improve diabetes management Posted: October 26th, 2010

By Maryalene LaPonsie

Health insurer CIGNA has announced a new initiative with pharmaceutical giant Merck. In the nation's first outcome-based contract between a health insurance company and a drug maker, the program creates corporate financial incentives to help diabetes patients manage their illness.

Under the terms of the contract, CIGNA receives reduced pricing from Merck if Type 2 diabetes patients are able to lower their blood sugar, regardless of which brand of medication they take. Additional discounts will be offered to those who have been prescribed Merck medications, such as Januvia and Janumet, by their doctors.

CIGNA stands to benefit from the contract not only because of the discounted pricing included in the contract, but also through the overall reduced costs for its diabetic members. According to a 2005 study, ensuring that patients follow their medication regimen 80 to 100 percent of the time is associated with an $8,000 savings in health care costs. The savings come largely from reduced hospitalization and emergency care.

Diabetes patients who are members of CIGNA health plans have access to several programs designed to encourage healthy habits and disease management. Some of CIGNA's existing services include the Well Informed, Well Aware for Better Health and Pharmacy Management Coach Rx programs.