Cigna Upbeat on New Behavioral Unit Despite Falling Patient Numbers

Cigna (NYSE: CI) has continued to expand its behavioral health segment, and the investment is paying off.

Evernorth, Cigna’s health service division, launched a new behavioral health group earlier this year focusing on measurement- and value-based care. According to Cigna’s CEO David Cordani, the new behavioral health group has already started to deliver positive results.

“We’re pleased with the progress our Evernorth Behavioral Care Group has made since its launch in six states, plus the District of Columbia, and we have already expanded access and convenience for patients with our program,” Cordani said in the company’s Q1 earnings call.


The behavioral care group launched with over 1,000 clinicians and guarantees patients an appointment within 72 hours. It aims to be a hybrid provider with both in-person and virtual care.

The principles behind Evernorth’s approach are based on prior data-driven learnings, according to Melissa Reilly, Evernorth’s chief growth officer.

Evernorth employed 40,000 of its 360,000 network providers in a measurement-based care arrangement, Reilly said at Behavioral Health Business’s VALUE conference, and is applying learnings from that test drive to Evernorth’s behavioral group. She noted that research from consulting firm Milliman found that when behavioral health services were integrated into care savings went up substantially.


“We can get a little bit more granular with our data,” Reilly said “For our partners engaging in our measurement-based care workgroups, we’re using our baseline data as that baseline to be able to start to compare and contrast and then really … prove out what is the true value of operating in value-based arrangements, both with our own group and with some of our network partners.”

For Cigna overall, the company reported total revenue of $57.3 billion in the first quarter of 2024, a 23% increase year-over-year.

While overall revenue climbed, Cigna’s behavioral health patient base dropped. As of March 31, Cigna had 23.8 million behavioral care patients, a year over year decrease of 11.48%.

The decrease was primarily due to the nonrenewal of supplemental behavioral coverage contracts, according to a company release. The slump was insignificant to total revenues and adjusted income, however.

Addressing broader industry trends, Cigna’s chief financial officer Brian Evanko highlighted the continued need for behavioral health benefits.

“Many large employers tend to be looking for opportunities to consolidate vendors or point solutions, something we’ve been calling point solution fatigue,” Evanko said. “We’re also seeing more and more demand for mental health and substance abuse benefits, particularly as an after-effect of the pandemic. And then finally, there’s continued demand for digitally enabled care navigation capabilities, along with consumer empowerment.”

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