Cigna CFO: Virtual-First Plans Are ‘Step 1’ Toward Moving Complex Care to Digital Settings

Nov. 13, 2021
The insurer is focusing first on self-funded plans with its new offering

Building on its acquisition this spring of MDLive, the Bloomfield, Conn.-based Cigna Corporation last month become the latest insurer to roll out a virtual-first health plan. And while that offering focuses on primary, urgent, behavioral and dermatology care, CFO Brian Evanko last week said the company will push other services to its digital platform.

The new plans from Cigna will be available Jan. 1 and will initially be offered only to self-funded clients. Evanko said early interest in the option – which lives on the MDLive platform Cigna bought in April for a little more than $2 billion in cash – has been “strong” and is giving the company’s executives confidence in their plan to move MDLive into more complex areas of care.

“This is step 1 toward where we see the market going,” Evanko said during a Nov. 9 appearance at the Credit Suisse 30th Annual Healthcare Conference. “There still too many procedures that are occurring in higher-cost settings than they need to be. There are a number of consults that we believe can be virtualized with the same exact clinical quality at a lower cost.”

MDLive is housed in Cigna’s Evernorth division, which also comprises pharmacy, benefits management and data intelligence businesses and produced a pre-tax profit of $2.55 billion on revenues of nearly $83 billion in the first nine months of this year. In addition to scaling up its digital care venture, Evanko said Cigna also is committed to investing in home care, behavioral health and data analytics, among other things. Those investments, he added, will create “a little headwind” for Cigna’s finances in 2022 but both revenues and profits are expected to grow in the coming year.

Shares of Cigna (Ticker: CI) finished last week at nearly $218, up slightly from the prior Friday. Over the past six months, they have lost nearly 20% of their value.

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