Cigna, Oscar offer insurance plan to help small businesses maintain productivity

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Small businesses have lost a lot to COVID-19 — including revenue and employees — but two large companies don’t want quality health insurance to be another loss for them to bear.

Health insurance companies Cigna and Oscar teamed up to create a new product for small businesses, called Cigna + Oscar. It will be available to small businesses in Atlanta, the San Francisco Bay Area and Tennessee in the fourth quarter of this year, should it meet all regulatory requirements.

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of the U.S. economy and have been significantly challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Chelsea Cooper, senior vice president of small group business at Oscar. “Cigna + Oscar was created with the purpose of addressing small businesses' unique challenges through solutions tailored to their budgets and care designed to prioritize their employees’ health needs.”

Cigna and Oscar conducted a survey of more than 1,000 small business decision-makers — through the Harris Poll — and found 70% of respondents reported that they lost revenue and more than half had to lay off or furlough employees thanks to the pandemic. But employers still hope to serve the health needs of the employees they still have, with 66% of respondents saying health insurance was a high priority in their budgets.

Now, as employers look to return to work and boost their revenues, providing health insurance ensures not just a healthy workforce, but a productive one.According to a MetLife study, 60% of employers said offering health insurance to their employees resulted in higher productivity levels.

“Companies across the U.S. have long recognized that investment in the health of employees and their families is critical, because they know that a healthy and productive workforce is a key driver of their business success,” says Julie McCarter, vice president of product solutions at Cigna. “Now that link has been magnified, as employers large and small view a healthy workforce as a condition of getting their businesses up and running again in a COVID-19 environment.”

For small businesses of less than 50 people, the Cigna + Oscar program will offer 24/7 access to telehealth visits with primary care physicians at no additional cost. Employees who live outside California and are not enrolled in a high-deductible health plan are also eligible for $3 drug co-pays on common prescriptions. But all Cigna + Oscar members will have access to Cigna’s network of doctors, specialists and hospitals.

The offerings go beyond traditional health insurance by including access to Cigna’s Behavioral Health programs, which include coaching and access to a 24/7 crisis helpline. Since 45% of American adults report increased anxiety and depression due to coronavirus — according to Kaiser Family Foundation data — mental health benefits can also help maintain employee productivity.

“Through our partnership, we are providing more choices for affordable, predictable and simple health coverage to small businesses at a time when they need it most,” McCarter says.

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Health insurance Small business Cigna Employee productivity Telehealth Mental health benefits