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Cigna, Oscar plan to expand affordable coverage for small businesses in Connecticut

The move taps into the small business market in Connecticut and seeks to introduce more choice in coverage options.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

(Photo by Emir Memedovski/Getty Images)(Photo by Emir Memedovski/Getty Images)

Major health insurer Cigna will be teaming with insurance company Oscar to offer small business health insurance to Connecticut employers later this year, in a new offering called Cigna + Oscar that will come into effect on July 1. 

The move taps into the small business market in Connecticut and seeks to introduce more choice in coverage options for the state's business community. Oscar, which bills itself as the first health insurance company built on a full stack technology platform, and Cigna said the offering would prioritize whole-person health.

Connecticut small businesses with between one and 50 employees will have access to the offering's services, which will include expected monthly savings for business and employees, and feature different plan options across price points as well as behavioral health benefits.

Those behavioral health benefits tap into Cigna's network for mental health resources, the Cigna Open Access Plus network, which touts 24/7 virtual urgent care to employers at no cost.

The offering also includes pharmacy services that feature $3 copays on common prescriptions, as well as Express Scripts pharmacists, nurses and specialty drug experts. Also included are  dedicated care team experts to help employees understand their benefits and find nearby care.

Cigna and Oscar will share risk equally under a reinsurance agreement for solutions offered through the partnership, and plan to expand the partnership over time, they said.

WHAT'S THE IMPACT

Cigna has been expanding its collaboration with Oscar to meet the needs of small business employers.

Of a similar collaboration in California, Bruce Grimm, Cigna's senior vice president of segments said the partnership brings together Cigna's nationwide and local provider networks and Oscar's member-focused experience.

The COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted small businesses across the country, especially in Connecticut. Over one-third of Connecticut small businesses were forced to shut down since the beginning of the pandemic, according to a report from Opportunity Insights, a Harvard University-based research institute. 

In a separate survey conducted by Cigna + Oscar, 88% of small businesses plan to better prioritize their employees' health moving forward, and 66% say that health insurance is more important to calculate in their budgets than before the outbreak of coronavirus.

THE LARGER TREND

Cigna has been active over the past several months. In September it launched Evernorth, a rebrand of its health services portfolio, which includes pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts, specialty pharmacy Accredo and eviCore healthcare, which provides utilization management services for health plans or employer groups and outpatient diagnostic imaging service programs.

Weeks later it announced it would be adding Medicare Advantage plans in 67 new counties in five new states: Ohio, Virginia, Oklahoma, Utah and New Mexico. That same month Cigna reached a multi-year agreement with Envision Healthcare, a medical group located in 45 states and the District of Columbia, to give Cigna's commercial and exchange plan members in-network access to Envision's clinicians.

In January, New York Life completed its $6.3 billion acquisition of Cigna's group life, accident and disability insurance business. As a part of the deal, New York Life and Cigna will also participate in a multi-year collaboration to create group benefit solutions for their clients.

The new business has been renamed New York Life Group Benefit Solutions and will operate within New York Life's portfolio of strategic businesses, which includes Group Membership Association, Institutional Annuities, Institutional Life, New York Life Direct, and Seguros Monterrey New York Life, among others.

ON THE RECORD

"Small businesses have had to be resilient throughout the pandemic, and it's exciting to see them begin reopening their doors for business," said Louis DeStefano, head of the small group business and senior vice president of growth at Oscar. "Cigna + Oscar is designed to help these businesses keep their doors open for the years to come by, offering affordable health plans specific to their employees' needs and budgets."
 

'Twitter: @JELagasse
Email the writer: jeff.lagasse@himssmedia.com