Cigna to offer Ginger's behavioral health platform as in-network benefit

Cigna is making Ginger's platform available in-network for 14 million members. (Ginger)

Cigna is making Ginger's on-demand virtual behavioral health care platform available to 14 million members as an in-network benefit.

Cigna members enrolled in employer-sponsored or individual and family plans can access Ginger's therapy, psychiatric and behavioral health coaching services in-network. The insurer is the first national plan to offer Ginger's behavioral health coaching as an in-network benefit.

The platform is available 24/7 and is designed to prevent behavioral health conditions from worsening to more serious needs. It's built on an evidence-based approach that's supported with artificial intelligence and analytics.

Cigna and Ginger have had a longstanding relationship, the companies said, with the insurer's venture arm investing in the startup in early 2020.

RELATED: COVID-driven demand for virtual behavioral healthcare remains high, Cigna study finds

Doug Nemecek, M.D., chief medical officer for behavioral health at Cigna, told Fierce Healthcare that the ease of access to Ginger's tools is a key boon, as accessing behavioral healthcare has been a long-standing challenge in the industry.

In addition, as it's simple and available at home, patients are less likely to avoid services they need due to the associated stigma, he said.

"It really expands the availability so more people can access the right care," Nemecek said.

COVID-19 has only further highlighted the need for more accessible and comprehensive behavioral health care. Cigna analyzed claims data from between March and May 2020 and found that 97% of people included in the study who accessed behavioral health services had no prior claims for such needs.

However, the pandemic has also turbocharged interest in virtual care, especially for behavioral and mental health care. Nemecek said that 60% of its members' behavioral health visits are being delivered virtually.

"That combination of issues really highlighted the need to bring more of these digital and virtual care solutions, and Ginger’s a great partner in that way," Nemecek said.