Individuals & Families Employers Brokers Physicians Health & Wellness
ARTICLE Case Study: City and County of Denver


Case Study: City and County of Denver

Engaged Employees: Managing Conditions and Controlling Costs

According to a survey by the National League of Cities, 81% of municipal finance directors in the U.S. say that health care costs have a growing impact on their city's fiscal condition.

The City and County of Denver, like many municipalities, are no exception. Denver faces growing budget challenges driven by rising personnel costs, an aging population and a higher-than-average prevalence of chronic conditions. For example, costs associated with diabetic members are up to three times higher than those without this chronic condition.

In 2010, Denver collaborated with UnitedHealthcare to actively address rising medical trend costs and engage employees in effective wellness and disease management programs.


  • A municipal budget deficit of $100 million.
  • Personnel costs that consume 70% of the City and County budget and growing 4% each year.
  • Dramatic upward growth in medical trend.


  • Control costs.
  • Offer innovative health care solutions to employees.
  • Improve employee decision-making.

Innovative Approaches

The City and County's top priority was to make their more than 7,000 employees active participants in the prevention and management of chronic conditions – an effective strategy for lowering long-term health care costs.

UnitedHealthcare was asked to think outside the box, with the introduction of new engagement tools, plan options and products that would incentivize employees and preserve personnel resources for the City and County. Using claims data and other information, UnitedHealthcare designed these engagement approaches to address health challenges specific to Denver's employee population.

Promoting Prevention

UnitedHealthcare helped Denver create and support a culture of wellness for City and County employees by committing signifi cant seed money over a multi-year span. Unused wellness funds are rolled over to the following year, creating the potential for long-term planning and meaningful employee impact.

Engagement with Primary Care Physicians

UnitedHealthcare Navigate® is an innovative suite of solutions that helps Denver employees find and connect with primary care physicians. Members also used UnitedHealthcare's Health4Me™ phone app for locating a primary care physician, ER, urgent care facility or convenience care clinic. As a result of these and other innovations, Denver member ER visits fell to 10 percent below the national norm in 2011.

Awareness and Education

Through UnitedHealthcare, Denver employees participated in workplace biometric screenings, where they also received on-the-spot health coaching. Employees also benefited from engaging with UnitedHealthcare customer care professionals, who take ownership of employee concerns and are accountable for delivering effective solutions.

Compelling Results

The City and County's collaboration with UnitedHealthcare got employees engaged in managing their health. These engaged employees improved care outcomes and ultimately lowered their medical trend. Measurable results include:

  • Medical trend fell from 12.8% to 4.5% between 2011 and 2012, a reduction of more than 8%.
  • ER visits are down 2.8%, and are trending more than 10% below the national norm.
  • 74% of all physician visits were to a Premium Designated Physician, one who meets UnitedHealth PremiumŪ quality and cost-effi ciency criteria.
  • The number of employees engaged in a clinical management program increased 2%.
  • 64% of Denver employees are making optimal health decisions, 5% above the UnitedHealthcare public sector norm.1
  • Significant cost savings: $244.42 PMPM. Among "most at-risk" employees who are actively engaged, net per member per month cost has decreased by 14%.

Learn how you can implement cost-saving health care programs. For more information, contact your UnitedHealthcare representative.

Download case study (PDF)

Members received support through tools like Health4Me, a mobile app that gives employees instant access to critical health information.