Payer Roundup—Cigna offers up new mental and behavioral health apps; Anthem focused on growth

Cigna is offering its employers three new apps: Happify, iPrevail and Annum Health. (Pixabay)

Cigna grows digital health footprint

Cigna announced several new digital health initiatives within the last week.

Last Thursday, the company said it will offer employers two new mental well-being apps through its Cigna Total Behavioral Health program. One, Happify, aims to help users overcome negative thoughts and build resilience, according to its website. Cigna says Happify includes 3,000 scientifically-grounded activities and games and 300 guided meditations.

The other, iPrevail, provides people experiencing stress, depression, and other challenges with personalized guidance, interactive lessons and tools, and peer support.

“It’s our hope these new digital tools will help empower people to actively engage in their mental health, and make it easier to get support when they need it,” said Julie McCarter, Cigna’s vice president of product solutions.

And on Wednesday, Cigna said it would pilot a tool to help people reduce alcohol consumption over the course of a year. The two-part solution, designed by startup Annum Health, includes an app and a personal support team of physicians, health coaches and licensed therapists. Cigna will also work with Annum and its employer clients to develop “culturally-appropriate awareness campaigns to encourage anonymous self-identification and engagement.”

Michael Laskoff, co-founder and CEO of Annum Health, said “Cigna is our ideal partner because of our shared passion for improving customers’ access to quality care,” noting that this is Annum’s first partnership with a national health services company. (Happify and iPrevail announcement/Annum Health announcement)

Anthem VP sees growth in the company’s future

Peter Haytaian, executive vice president of Anthem’s commercial and specialty business, reflected on lessons learned and future goals at Credit Suisse’s annual healthcare conference this week.

Despite some bumps in the road in the first quarter, he said the company has made “very encouraging” and focused progress across multiple segments—individual, large group, small group and retiree. For example, Haytaian said he saw an opportunity to grow its fully-insured market, even though some consider fully-insured plans to be in decline.

However, he said he is “cautiously optimistic that [Anthem is] going to grow across the board,” declining to name an area where he expects it to grow the most.

Throughout the year, the company has made a deliberate effort to recruit strong talent, including at the top. It sought leadership that could develop a strategic vision for growth, “cross-pollinating” from other healthcare companies.

Thousands more Arkansans lose Medicaid due to work requirements

The number of Arkansans who have lost Medicaid coverage for not complying with the state's work requirements for three months totaled 12,128 by the end of October, according to data released by the state. This population is locked out of the program until Jan. 1.

By contrast, only 1,525 people met the requirements this past month, the majority of whom already met the requirement by satisfying the work requirement for food stamps. Another 6,002 people could lose coverage in December.

The state requires Medicaid beneficiaries to report that they work, attend school, volunteer or search for jobs for 80 hours per month to remain eligible for coverage. Pregnant women, medically frail individuals, caregivers and other select populations are exempt. Before the policy was implemented, many expected it to result in widespread coverage losses, primarily due to the burden of reporting compliance. (The Hill article)

UnitedHealth board member retires

UnitedHealthcare is down one board member. Kenneth I. Shine, M.D., announced his retirement from the board on Tuesday. He cited “personal family interests” as the reason for his departure, which will become effective at the end of this year. According to an SEC filing, his decision “is not the result of any disagreement with the Company or the Board.”

Shine is also a professor of medicine in the Department of Internal Medicine at the Dell Medical School at the University of Texas, Austin.

According to his CV, Shine is 83 years old. He is an Aquarius. (SEC document)