Bloomfield, Connecticut-based Cigna Corp. disclosed Thursday that behavioral health customer relationships grew the fastest in 2021 among its various plan offerings.
The insurance giant announced in its fourth-quarter and annual earnings release that behavioral care customer relationships grew from 36.9 million at the end of 2020 to 40.4 million at the end of 2021, a 9.4% increase.
The next fastest customer relationship Cigna (NYSE: CI) reported was through its U.S. Government segment, which includes Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement, and Medicare Part D plans for seniors and individual health plans. Customer relationships in that segment grew 8.9% to 1.5 million in 2021.
Behavioral health has played an increasingly significant role for major health plans — especially those with heavy investment in government-backed plans — and Cigna has made it a point to add more behavioral health offerings to its members. Earlier this week, Meru Health announced that its services would be expanded nationwide for Cigna members. In 2021, was also the first insurer to give insurance members in-network access to virtual behavioral health start-up Ginger.io.
On a recent webinar, Doug Nemecek, the chief medical officer of Cigna’s health services division Evernorth, said there is room for improvement in how insurers inform and guide members to behavioral health resources.
“We see that at Cigna … that we can put [wellness platforms] Ginger or Meru Health or [eating disorder treatment app] Equip into our network,” Nemecek said, according to previous reporting by Behavioral Health Business. “But when [patients] start to look for providers and see those names, … they don’t know which one is right for them.”
On the company’s earnings conference call on Thursday, Cigna CEO and Chairman David Cordani noted that Evernorth — which owns the telehealth platform MDLive — expanded its virtual care capabilities in 2021 to include behavioral health.
“Evernorth will also continue to grow from the significant demand for more mental health services as well as the rapidly changing access to care models,” Cordani said, according to a transcript of the call. “For example, Evernorth is continuing to expand our virtual care services by leveraging our MDLive platform as well as expanding our behavioral care network. … Our Evernorth research reinforces that total healthcare costs decrease when people who are diagnosed with behavioral conditions receive coordinated, sustained treatment.”
He added that the company will further invest in telebehavioral health in 2022 as well as deepen its focus on the connection between mental and physical health.
Revenue for Cigna increased by 8.5% to $174 billion and net income was $5.4 billion, a 36.6% decrease year-over-year in 2021.
Cigna is one of the nation’s largest insurers and pharmacy benefit managers. The earnings release discloses that Cigna has 185.7 million customers across all its segments.