Cigna reaps ROI through education reimbursement program

Cigna's investment in employee education has paid off for the insurer in the form of tangible cost savings, according to a new study from the Lumina Foundation.

The study analyzed Cigna's Educational Reimbursement Program (ERP) from 2012 to 2014, during which time more than 2,200 participants pursued an associate, bachelor's or master's degree, or a certification.

Cigna's program produced a return on investment of 129 percent, meaning for every dollar invested in its ERP, the company got back its $1 and avoided an additional $1.29 in talent management costs. Program participants were 10 percent more likely to be promoted, 7.5 percent more likely to be transferred within Cigna and 8 percent were more likely to stay with the company.

"Knowing that tuition assistance also reaps a financial return--and quantifying that return on investment--has affirmed our belief in the program and prompted us to make changes that will make it even more impactful," Karen Kocher, Cigna's chief learning officer, said in a study announcement.

The researchers suggested that Cigna could increase its ERP use by communicating which positions are in high demand so employees can plan their educational track accordingly. Cigna, in turn, has increased its financial support for the ERP, launched advisory services so employees can better plan their education and career paths and eliminated the financial burden of up-front payments.

Similarly, fellow major insurer Anthem announced last year that it would expand a pilot program that pays for some of its employees to earn an associate or bachelor's degree.

To learn more:
- here is the study (.pdf)
- read the announcement