Evernorth, Bicycle Health Deal Gives Cigna Members Access to Virtual Opioid Use Disorder Care

Bicycle Health, a virtual opioid use disorder (OUD) treatment startup, announced Thursday it joined Evernorth’s enormous behavioral health network.

Evernorth, the health services business of Bloomfield, Connecticut-based health insurance behemoth Cigna Corp (NYSE: CI), now grants access to Bicycle Health’s services to all of its clients and to the Cigna employer or marketplace exchange plan members in 24 states, according to a news release.

This partnership adds another virtual behavioral health provider to Evernorth’s network of 250,000 providers. In October 2020, Evernorth added New York City-based digital addiction provider Quit Genius to its network. Earlier in the year, the independent mental health practitioner platform Alma joined Evernorth’s network.


“We need innovative ways to help those looking to overcome OUD, and Bicycle Health provides a new option to care for our clients and customers,” Dr. Doug Nemecek, chief medical officer for behavioral health of Evernorth, said in the release. “Together, we’ll be able to provide a virtual treatment plan that creates more access that’s available when and where people need it in a convenient and comfortable way.”

Nemecek previously told Behavioral Health Business that Evernorth is looking for “other innovative partners that are starting to develop new, innovative ways of delivering care.”

For Bicycle Health, the partnership continues the company’s growth. In June, the company landed a $50 million Series B funding round led by Omaha-based InterAlpen Partners.


Over the past year, Bicycle Health expanded to seven new states. It has served 17,000 patients in its 24-state footprint, according to a news release.

“By joining Evernorth’s behavioral health network, health plans and employers are now able to cover this kind of care more easily than ever before,” Bicycle Health CEO Ankit Gupta said in the release. “It is only through that kind of vision and leadership that we will turn the tide in addressing the opioid crisis.”

The rate of overdose deaths in the U.S. jumped following the onset of the coronavirus pandemic after leveling off in 2017. An estimated 109,200 people died from overdoses in the 12-month period ending in March. Seventy-five percent include opioids, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Bicycle Health offers medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid-use disorder via its mobile app. The platform gives patients 24/7 access to Bicycle Health resources. Bicycle also offers medication management, peer support groups and therapy after an assessment. Addiction treatment providers can also work with patients to develop a care plan.

Bicycle Health and other virtual behavioral health operators are facing an uncertain regulatory environment after COVID-era federal regulations allowed them to flourish.

For example, the Drug Enforcement Administration in March 2020 waived a key provision of the Ryan Haight Act, which requires an in-person visit before a patient is prescribed a controlled substance. However, this measure is temporary and is scheduled to end around the same time as the federal public health emergency (PHE) barring federal action by the Biden administration or by Congress.

Despite other controversies plaguing the San Francisco-based digital mental health provider Cerebral Inc., the company pointed to the uncertainty around the Ryan Haight Act as the impetus for its decision to stop prescribing controlled substances.

Cigna continues to drive growth in its behavioral health lines business with this deal.

Behavioral Health Business reported in February that behavioral health customer relationships at Cigna grew the fastest in 2021 among its various business relationships. For the full year, behavioral care customer relationships grew to 40.4 million at the end of 2021, a 9.4% increase.

This trend continues in 2022. Behavioral care relationships grew year-over-year by 13% to 44.1 million during the second quarter, the fastest of all the customer relationships detailed in the Cigna news release announcing its quarterly earnings results.

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