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Cigna launches pilot program to address loneliness during COVID-19

The population health initiative for Medicare Advantage members is a personal check-in on health, well-being, food, housing and transportation.

Susan Morse, Managing Editor

Loneliness is among the byproducts of social isolation during the coronavirus pandemic.

To increase social connectivity among its Medicare Advantage members, Cigna is launching a pilot program to reach out to them.

The insurer will monitor their general health and well-being as well as their daily needs, including food, housing and transportation. Customers will be able to opt-in to receive follow-up calls from a Cigna representative to help cultivate meaningful connections.

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Cigna will also leverage data and analytics to identify MA members who may be at higher risk for health issues and complications for additional proactive outreach to help answer questions about COVID-19, conduct regular health checks and triage care to a medical professional, if necessary.

The pilot program will initially reach 24,000 of Cigna's 500,000 Medicare Advantage members, with plans for rapid expansion.

The Cigna Foundation is working with, and providing, a grant to the organization Bring Smiles to Seniors to provide homemade cards to residents of senior living facilities. Cigna employees and their families have created nearly 2,500 homemade cards.

WHY THIS MATTERS

Loneliness affects health among all populations and is among the social determinants of health. Distancing precautions due to COVID-19 is exacerbating feelings of isolation, particularly for residents in many senior living communities who are unable to accept visitors under COVID-19 restrictions.

THE LARGER TREND

Three in five American adults, 61%, identify as lonely, according to findings in Cigna's 2020 Loneliness Index, from January. This represents a 7% increase from 2018.

ON THE RECORD

"Our deep research into loneliness has shown us the undeniable correlation between our emotional and physical health," said Dr. Douglas Nemecek, Chief Medical Officer for Behavioral Health at Cigna. "With so many older Americans living alone and sheltering in place right now, we want to go the extra mile to help support, engage and connect with them during this unprecedented time."

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
Email the writer: susan.morse@himssmedia.com

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