Cigna to support social connections for seniors during COVID-19

In alignment with ongoing efforts to raise awareness about loneliness and its impact on health and well-being, Cigna is launching a pilot program to increase social connectivity among its Medicare Advantage (MA) customers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our deep research into loneliness has shown us the undeniable correlation between our emotional and physical health,” said Douglas Nemecek, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Behavioral Health, Cigna. “With so many older Americans living alone and sheltering in place right now, we want to go the extra mile to help support, engage and connect with them during this unprecedented time.”

Through the pilot, Cigna is reaching out proactively to many of its Medicare customers to monitor their general health and well-being as well as daily needs during COVID-19, including food, housing and transportation. Customers will be able to opt-in to receive follow-up calls from the same Cigna representative to help cultivate meaningful connections. Cigna will also leverage its comprehensive data and analytics to identify MA customers who may be at higher risk for health issues and complications for additional proactive outreach to help answer questions about COVID-19, conduct regular health checks and triage care to a medical professional, if necessary. The pilot program will initially reach 24,000 customers with plans for rapid expansion.

Cigna colleagues are also supporting efforts to connect with residents in senior communities, many of which are unable to accept visitors under COVID-19 containment restrictions. Cigna employees and their families have created nearly 2,500 homemade cards, which will be distributed in partnership with Bring Smiles to Seniors to residents in senior communities across the country. The Cigna Foundation is providing a grant to the organization to support their continued efforts to lift the spirits of seniors during this isolating time.

In addition to sending cards, Cigna is encouraging everyone to join in its effort to help alleviate feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and social isolation among seniors at this time by:

  • Regularly checking in with older adult friends, neighbors and family members, through calls or video chat.
  • Offering to deliver a meal, run an errand or walk their dog, if allowed.
  • Helping seek medical advice or care if someone is experiencing physical symptoms or expresses concerns about their mental health and well-being.

Through its Medicare Advantage plans, Cigna serves more than 500,000 older adults. Three in five American adults (61%) identify as lonely, according to findings in Cigna’s 2020 Loneliness Index, representing a seven percentage-point increase from 2018.