Cigna has launched Cigna Care Card to help employers provide extra financial support to their employees during the coronavirus pandemic, the payer announced.
“We are committed to supporting our clients and customers during this unprecedented situation, ensuring that affordable benefit solutions are in place to provide valuable access to prescriptions, office visits, and behavioral care,” said Julie McCarter, vice president of US solutions at Cigna. “Together with our clients we can offer a softer landing for people who are facing financial hardship so they can come out of the crisis healthy and resilient.”
Many Americans have suffered a financial fallout due to COVID-19. As furloughs and unemployment soar, nearly half of those who lost a source of income stated that they were struggling to pay for household expenses. High percentages were also skipping meals and struggling to make bill payments.
With Cigna’s new product, employers can put money on the Cigna Care Card for employees to use for qualified payments. Employees do not have to pay taxes on the funds and for employers the contribution is completely tax deductible.
The funds are pre-loaded onto the card, which operates as a debit card.
Employees are not restricted to using the funds for medical purposes. Instead, they can also be applied toward a variety of social determinants of health needs. The press release named four qualified expenses that employees can use the funds to cover:
- Medical payments
- Child care
- Wellness services
Other authorized uses are determined by qualifying disaster relief payments under IRS Section 139.
Earlier in the same month, Cigna announced a new program to protect coronavirus patients from surprise bills.
Whereas previous actions by Cigna covered coronavirus patients from in-network surprise bills, Customer Protection Program looks to cover members from out-of-network surprise bills.
The program aims to reimburse out-of-network providers quickly and at market rates. With the Cigna Customer Protection Program, the payer commits to advocate for patients who are facing out-of-network balance or surprise billing. Cigna will also take any unfair billing practices to regulatory officials for legal action.
In addition to these efforts, the payer promised to advocate for and spread awareness of the need for these kinds of protections against surprise billing.
Cigna customers can use their mobile app or call a phone number to identify in- and out-of-network providers. Should they experience a surprise billing situation, members can contact Cigna for support.
“During these unprecedented times, we are standing with our customers, so those with COVID-19 can focus on fighting this virus and preventing its spread – not on their medical bills,” said David M. Cordani, president and chief executive officer of Cigna. “We will partner closely with any Cigna customer who receives a surprise bill related to COVID-19 care and work to resolve the issue, so they can have greater peace of mind.”
The Cigna Customer Protection Program is available for US members on employer-sponsored health plans, group health insurance plans, globally mobile individuals, Medicare Advantage and individual and family plans and is optional for self-funded employers.
Cigna is not the only payer seeking to alleviate member financial struggles.
United Healthcare has promised more than $1.5 billion in assistance and premium support. Credits could be between five and 20 percent for premium bills in the month of June.
Priority Health in Michigan likewise is offering premium credits and cost-sharing waivers for members in hard-hit communities. The payer is drawing from the surplus of funds that would normally go toward nonessential health services in order to provide these benefits.
“Small businesses and individual consumers have been particularly hard hit during this outbreak, we hope this relief will make it easier for them to stay covered,” explained Joan Budden, president and chief executive officer of Priority Health.