AHIP19: Cigna's Cordani says it's time to press pause on 'Medicare-for-All' talk—but change is necessary 

Calculator that says "Medicare" on it on top of money, next to bottle of pills
Cigna CEO David Cordani was asked about "Medicare for All" Wednesday. (Getty Images/liveslow)

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE—Cigna chief David Cordani said it’s time to pump the brakes on calls for a healthcare system overhaul like “Medicare for All.”

Cordani, speaking at the AHIP Institute & Expo Wednesday, said insurers should hear the underlying message from consumers that their care is often too costly. And while reform on the scale of transitioning to a single-payer system may not be necessary, consumers’ frustration with healthcare costs does speak to the need for real, substantial change, he said. 

“There’s a real call from a societal standpoint for more value and more piece of mind to be delivered to individuals,” Cordani said. 

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Instead, Cordani said the solution is for insurers like Cigna to strengthen the public-private partnerships they operate today—Medicare Advantage and Medicaid managed care being the two prime examples—and pivot toward work that keeps people healthy in the first place. 

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Continuing to evolve into a health system that rewards the companies that offer the greatest value is also crucial, Cordani said. 

Cigna is the world’s largest provider of coverage solutions to expats and international nongovernmental organizations, and it operates in countries where there are single-payer systems or hybrid systems with more government control than in the U.S. So, Cordani said, the company sees firsthand that cost issues and healthcare can’t be solved with a “one-size-fits-all solution.” 

“We serve people everywhere in the world. We see a lot of delivery systems around the world,” he said. “There’s not a silver bullet.” 

One way to make significant change is to focus on and lean into solutions that are already working. Identifying those solutions allows leaders to “nourish” and “water” them to grow to a greater scale.

RELATED: New Amazon venture not a threat, Cigna CEO tells investors 

“All too often as a society and individuals we’ll focus on problems,” he said. “Sometimes it’s helpful to focus on the bright spots.” 

And the energy is there for change, Cordani said. He said today he sees a more diverse and larger group of healthcare organizations “actively and aggressively leaning into a change agenda” than in his career so far. 

Fewer groups are willing to protect “the status quo,” he said. 

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