Cigna Becomes First Insurer to Offer Ginger’s Coaching Services as In-Network Benefit

The on-demand, virtual behavioral health care provider Ginger has reached an agreement with Cigna to bring its full platform to the insurer’s behavioral health customers nationwide. Ginger announced the news Thursday.

The agreement covers 14 million Cigna customers who have employer-sponsored or individual and family insurance plans (IFP). Under the partnership, those beneficiaries will be able to receive behavioral health coaching, therapy and psychiatry services through Ginger.

Cigna is the first national health plan to offer Ginger’s coaching services as an in-network benefit.

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Ginger’s behavioral health coaching services are designed to prevent mental health conditions like anxiety and depression from progressing into more serious problems. Cigna customers interested in checking out the services can do so by downloading the mobile app, which is available on Google Play and the Apple Store.

After new customers have their insurance benefit information validated, they can connect with a Ginger coach via text within 60 seconds. Plus, they are provided access to the provider’s self-guided content and skill-building activities. Services are available 24/7, with coaches helping users throughout their entire care experience with Ginger.

Coaching has become an increasingly attractive option for individuals seeking lower-level behavioral health assistance and whose needs do not yet require therapy or psychiatry. Lending support to the effectiveness of coaching is a study co-authored by Ginger researchers that was published earlier this year by JMIR Formative Research.

The authors of the study combed through data from over 1,600 Ginger users and found that people who used standalone coaching services saw improved outcomes, as did those using coaching in conjunction with other care modalities like clinical therapy.

“Specific to mental health and anxiety, coaching can work similarly to psychotherapy in addressing symptoms through positive psychology, mindfulness, motivational interviewing, strength and solution-oriented focuses, among other techniques,” the authors noted in the report.

The new benefit arrangement with Cigna marks another big milestone for San Francisco-based Ginger, which was founded in 2010 and has raised close to $221 million in funding to date, according to the fundraising tracking website Crunchbase.

The agreement with Cigna comes after Ginger recently raised $100 million in a Series E round led by funds managed by Blackstone Growth. The round also drew participation from Cigna’s venture capital subsidiary, Cigna Ventures, and took Ginger’s valuation to about $1.1 billion, making it one of the few virtual behavioral health providers to reach unicorn status.

On top of that, Ginger — which has nearly 25 million users across four countries — has almost tripled its workforce since the onset of the pandemic, widening its team of coaches, clinicians, engineers and operational leaders to meet the increased demand nationwide for mental health services.

“We’re facing a nationwide supply-demand crisis in mental healthcare, with demand reaching unprecedented levels, and fewer providers entering the industry than ever before,” Russell Glass, CEO of Ginger, said in a press release announcing the Cigna agreement. “We’re proud to partner with leading organizations like Cigna that recognize not only the scope of the nation’s mental health crisis, but the importance of taking a preventative approach to this challenge. Together, we are opening up access to incredible mental healthcare for millions, at a fraction of the cost of traditional care.”

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