Nov 25, 2018
With Clinicians, Cigna Addresses Substance Use Disorders

At Cigna, we understand that compassion and community efforts help solve problems. Shame and blame do not. That’s why, in May 2016, Cigna convened its medical, behavioral, and pharmacy programs to identify ways that Cigna could harness its physician-collaboration model to interrupt the cycle of addiction. The work was done while still ensuring that people who have no pain-management alternatives retained clinically appropriate access to the remedies prescribed by their doctor.

Reducing risk of prescription opioid misuse is an important part of combatting the opioid epidemic, and we’ve made a lot of progress. In fact, Cigna, in collaboration with more than 1.1 million prescribing clinicians, reduced prescription opioid use among its customers by 25%.1

For people struggling to manage pain and for those dealing with addiction, more has to be done to support them along with their families, employers, and communities. On June 21, Cigna intensified its commitment to reduce the number of opioid overdoses by 25% among its commercial customers in targeted U.S. communities by December 2021. Through new drug prevention and treatment efforts, the company will apply extensive, integrated experience in helping people with chronic conditions across medical, behavioral, and pharmacy benefits, and will collaborate with employers, customers, prescribing clinicians, pharmacists, dentists, and community-based organizations. Read the press release.

Finding a long-term solution for substance use disorders – and high overdose rates1 – means modernizing the approach to prevention, treatment, and communication. Join us. Let’s continue to work together, instead of finding blame, to stop the stigma and identify the right solutions.

Prioritize Prevention

We need to think of substance use disorders as a chronic disease. We must help protect those who may be at-risk. For those who already live with a substance use disorder, we need a health care system that supports early detection and prioritizes an integrated, holistic approach to health. This requires a focus on total health – mind and body – so that individuals can stay healthy, saving health care costs.

Reduce Stigma

The lexicon around substance use disorders is riddled with “blame” words like “abuse.” Health care leaders must adopt a new mindset when addressing this epidemic by ending blame to find real solutions that positions substance use disorders as the chronic disease that it is.

Integrate Evidence-Based Treatment

Cigna believes in the need for faster adoption of performance measures that have proven to be effective so that we treat substance use disorders as we treat physical illness. We encourage all providers to adopt the CDC's 2016 guidelines for acute and chronic use of opioids, transition away from high-dose opioids and move toward a comprehensive treatment plan for chronic pain management. We support the adoption of medication-assisted, multidisciplinary substance use disorder treatment programs. Learn more about substance use disorder treatments

As a part of our commitment to find solutions to address the drug epidemic, we are engaging with health care leaders to help change our national conversation and share best practices around substance use disorders.

  • Cigna convened more than 2,000 medical groups representing more than 65,000 doctors in a focused effort to help reduce opioid prescribing and to treat opioid use disorder as a chronic condition, one patient at a time.
  • Cigna notified physicians of risks of possible misuse or overuse, suggested by an integrated analysis of pharmacy, medical, and mental health (behavioral) benefits.
  • Cigna engaged with more than 85,000 prescribers annually whose patients have a concerning pattern of opioid prescription use to ensure that prescriptions are appropriate, medically necessary, and safe for the patient.
  • Cigna worked closely with clients to implement opioid utilization management solutions.
  • Cigna opened Cigna's 24/7/365 free counseling helplines to all veterans and their caregivers, whether they are Cigna customers or not, to help this community which is particularly vulnerable in this national epidemic.
  • Cigna convened local leaders to better understand the impact of the epidemic in communities like New York, Houston, and Los Angeles to identify solutions together that create greater awareness, more innovative treatments, and prevention.
  • Cigna required that doctors check their local Prescription Drug Management Program databases when prescribing more than a 21-day supply of narcotic painkillers.
  • Cigna made medication-assisted treatment (MAT) available for customers without prior authorization.
  • Cigna supports multiple organizations committed to improving behavioral health and substance use disorder treatment. Additionally, the Cigna Foundation expanded a collaboration with Shatterproof, a national non-profit dedicated to reducing the devastation the disease of addiction causes families. Together, we help identify, monitor, and evaluate implementation strategies to effectively treat all substance use disorders, and ensure they are handled with the same urgency, respect, and ongoing support as other chronic diseases.
  • Cigna participated in the initial working group that established the America's Health Insurance Plan (AHIP)'s Safe, Transparent Opioid Prescribing (STOP) Initiative, an evidence-based methodology for evaluating how provider practices compare to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Guidelines for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain.
  • Cigna is collaborating with the American Society for Addiction Medicine  (ASAM) on performance measures used by providers to evaluate how they're performing against national standards and to help ensure that patients receive high-quality care.
  • Cigna Foundation provided a grant to the Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) for an expansion of IAVA's Rapid Response Referral Program, a one-on-one case management and referral service program. IAVA's Veteran Transition Managers will help veterans in need, many of which may be living with substance use disorders and/or chronic pain issues.
  • The Cigna Foundation donated $50,000 to the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association to make naloxone, a drug that reverses the effects of opiate overdose, available to first responders in Pennsylvania.
  • Cigna sponsored a CQ Roll Call (CQRC) forum in D.C., featuring leaders from the community experts, Members of Congress and other leaders in the space to discuss the opioid epidemic as it pertains to veterans.
  • Cigna worked with the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) to explore the best ways to address the opioid epidemic. Learn about the survey
  • Cigna sponsored a two-event series with NPR Generation Listen in Atlanta and Chicago to support greater conversations and story sharing around America’s opioid epidemic, featuring special remarks from Cigna President and CEO David Cordani.
  • Cigna President and CEO David Cordani shared his thoughts on the importance of treating substance use disorders as a chronic disease in his Wall Street Journal’s "Future of Everything" op-ed, "Rehabbing Ou Ideas About Addiction To continue an ongoing dialogue on substance use disorders, Cordani also penned the Washington Post piece, "How the insurance industry can fight substance use disorders.
  • Cigna is working to change perceptions of substance use disorders with Stamp Out Stigma and the Association for Behavioral Health and Wellness (ABHW) by transforming the dialogue on these disorders from a whisper to a conversation.

Related Resources

If you or a loved one is struggling with opioid or other substance use issues, we have a selection of resources to help guide you. As always, consult with a health care provider on the right treatment.