Cigna expands telehealth coverage, adds behavioral health

By Jonah Comstock

Cigna has greatly expanded its telehealth offerings, adding AmericanWell to its existing offering of MDLive, the companies announced this morning. While the health insurer has been offering MDLive's service to members since 2013, they will now add AmWell, branded "AmWell for Cigna" both as a standard telehealth benefit for most of its employee health plans and many of its individual plans as well. In addition to expanding telehealth for its medical plans, Cigna is also remimbursing its contracted behavioral health care professionals for telehealth visits.  

“Since Cigna began offering telehealth to customers 10 years ago, we’ve learned a few things about how we can help people benefit from their plans in the ways that matter most: increased access and convenience, choice, care quality and affordability,” Cigna Telehealth Lead Robert Wijnhoven said in a statement. “We also know about the difficulty some Americans have accessing a behavioral health professional, especially in rural areas. Enabling access to our behavioral health care professional networks via telehealth provides an innovative solution to this accessibility challenge.”

Cigna will add video consultations for behavioral health, via AmWell, in January. They'll be available to the same customers who currently have access to face-to-face behavioral health services at the same cost as those services, a relative rarity for major health plans.

“Cost is especially important for customers on the public exchanges, which is why we are extending this benefit beyond our employer-sponsored plans,” Wijnhoven added. “As important however, is quality and continuity of care. That is why both MDLive and AmWell for Cigna are able to share consult notes with the customer’s primary care physician, with their consent, which helps facilitate continuity of care and promotes better quality and results.”

The new services do come with one caveat: They won't be available to Cigna customers in Texas and Arkansas, whose state regulations still make it difficult for telehealth companies to function.