Obesity is a pressing national epidemic with prolonged negative impact to general sense of health and well-being.
It is projected that in just eight years (by 2030), 85% of U.S. adults will be overweight, which will, in turn, increase obesity-related medical costs. Studies have found that medical spending for people with obesity can be 42% to 150% higher than people with normal weight.
People who struggle with obesity are at increased risk of developing chronic conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis, musculoskeletal issues, and some cancers that are known to negatively impact quality of life as well as reduce life span. For people who are obese while also having a chronic condition, medical spending soars even higher.
There is hope on the horizon as there have been many innovations in the last few years aimed at helping people better manage their weight. Newer weight-loss regimens may include prescription weight-loss drugs paired with individualized tools and support, enhanced medication adherence, as well as behavioral and life-style changes.
Professional Counseling for Added Motivation
Health care professionals like physicians, nurses, health coaches, dieticians, and more, are key partners to the safe and effective treatment of obesity. These professionals are trained to provide medical assessment, management, counseling, and coordination of treatment. For example, health coaches can help patients determine diet, the right exercise plan, and more. Research finds that obese patients who receive counseling and weight management from physicians, for example, are significantly more likely to participate in weight management programs and achieve their goals than those who do not.
Additionally, a health care professional can assess behavioral health risks factors associated with and possibly impacting a person’s weight management outcomes. Research suggests that for many people struggling with obesity there are psychosocial factors and root causes for their disease, which is also something that a physician, with the help of a behavioral therapist, can help to assess and address.
“The people who are most successful in their weight-loss journeys are those who are working with a trained professional to learn how to make better food choices, dispel common food myths, track their macro and micronutrient intake, learn how to add meaningful exercise into their daily lives, and most importantly, work to create new, healthier habits that stick,” said Dr. Mandeep Brar, medical director at Cigna.
Tools and Support, Medication Adherence, and Lifestyle Changes
SafeGuardRx for Cigna is a program designed to drive down costs and improve health outcomes for people living with chronic conditions like asthma, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The program provides one-on-one counseling and support for customers living with diabetes or pulmonary conditions. Through proactive outreach, our specially trained clinicians help customers better understand their medications, provide ways to encourage adherence, and can even connect them to Cigna condition coaching or behavioral health resources.
As part of an expansion to the SafeGuardRx program, Cigna is now offering clients the SafeGuardRx for Cigna Weight Management Program. This new program is designed to help customers develop personalized approach to their weight loss journey and avoid long-term health costs attributed to obesity. Patients get 24/7 access to online, live physician counseling (up to six free consultations) and prescriptions if appropriate through MDLIVE. The program also includes prescription weight-loss drugs when appropriate, along with personalized coaching, specialized pharmacists and other clinicians to support patients and encourage medication adherence to manage weight successfully.
“SafeGuardRx for Cigna Weight Management is another way Cigna is leveraging Express Scripts’ unmatched supply chain partnerships to unlock new value through innovative contracting strategies and pairing further value back to clients with new innovative patient support tools,” Dr. Brar said.
SafeGuardRx for Cigna Weight Management Program
Helping clients and customers avoid the long-term health costs of obesity.
Medications for weight loss, however, are only one component of an effective comprehensive weight-loss plan. Long-term lifestyle shifts are a key part of a good treatment regimen. There are a lot of tools available to help people make the necessary changes.
Omada for Cigna customers, for example, is an online program that inspires healthy, long-term habits for weight management. The program includes
- A full-time health coach to keep participants on track
- A wireless scale to monitor progress
- An interactive program that adapts to the participant
- Weekly online lessons to educate and inspire
- A small group of participants for real-time support
“Omada’s approach combines science with personalized support and digital technology to help participants build healthy habits around eating, activity, sleep, and stress,” Dr. Brar said. “The program’s human-centered design, empathetic health coaches, and smart technology work together to help members stay committed.”