MENTAL HEALTH

What Cigna’s Focus on Evernorth Means for Behavioral Health

What Cigna's Focus on Evernorth Means for Behavioral Health
Written by ckv6u

Cigna Corp. (NYSE: CI) will double down on Evernorth as part of its growth plan.

Evernorth is the health care services division of the Bloomfield, Connecticut-based insurer. Through Evernorth and its insurance plan business, Cigna is more and more relevant in the behavioral health space.

Cigna has more than doubled Evernorth’s behavioral health network—part of a growing trend by payers to prioritize such efforts.

Evernorth leads Cigna’s divisions financially. It made up 68% of Cigna’s pre-tax income and 79% of its revenue in the third quarter, according to financial filings.

Specifically, Cigna intends to deepen Evernorth’s digital capabilities. Evernorth services include benefit services, special pharmacy and care services, and health care point services.

Cigna itself has turned to behavioral health tech tools. In March, it rolled out the Confide Behavioral Health Navigator tool to help members triage symptoms.

“We also continue to make meaningful strategic investments to both sustain and create new sources of differentiation,” Brian Evanko, Cigna’s CFO, said during the company’s third-quarter earnings call. “These include investments, which serve to deepen our client relationships and expand our services portfolio and digital capabilities.”

More investment in Evernorth’s digital capabilities is in line with its recent actions. Evernorth has announced several partnerships with digital behavioral health providers this year.

To name a few, he partnered with the virtual opioid use disorder treatment provider Bicycle Health in August. It also partnered with Quit Genius and Alma.

Outside Evernorth, Cigna partnered with the Behavioral Health Center of Excellence. The partnership will establish standards for outcomes and best practices for autism therapies.

Moving forward, Cigna will invest more in virtual primary care for chronic conditions, company leadership suggested. Specific capabilities center on maintaining close contact with members. CEO David Cordani named continuous engagement, remote monitoring and connected devices as some of the areas it will invest in.

The tech and digital focus would enable “real-time interventions between appointments,” Cordani said. Already, Cigna paid $2 billion to acquire the 24/7 telehealth platform MDLIVE which provides urgent care, primary care, mental health care and dermatology.

Across Cigna, behavioral health care is the fastest-growing segment of its customer relationships.

In the third quarter, it had 44.5 million behavioral care customer relationships. That accounted for 23% of Cigna’s total 192.4 million total customer relationships. Behavioral customer relationships increased 12% year over year, according to SEC filings.

Pharmacy customer relationships accounted for the largest share — 108.7 million, or 56%. This segment grew 5% year over year.

Paying interest in behavioral health is deepening. The coronavirus spiked demand for services. It also solidified the importance of taking behavioral health seriously as part of whole-person care. This is leading to pay driving additional consolidation in the space. This includes as an owner of behavioral health practices as in the case of Optum and AbleTo and Refresh Mental Health.

Cigna beat estimates for earnings and revenue, according to Zacks Equity Research. In the quarter, it brought in earnings per adjusted share of $6.04 and revenue of $45.4 billion.

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