Published in Health Care

New deal with Cigna gives Priority Health national reach

BY Tuesday, June 23, 2020 04:35pm

A new deal with commercial health insurance carrier Cigna Corp. gives Priority Health a broader care network across the U.S. to use when pitching potential national accounts.

Under an existing agreement with the Bloomfield, Conn.-based Cigna (NYSE: C) that took effect at the start of 2019, Priority Health was able to sign up six employers who are based in Michigan and have locations outside of the state. Those six employers have nearly 30,000 employees combined, about 9,000 of whom are outside of Michigan and use Cigna’s care network.

Rick Morrone, Priority Health’s senior vice president for employer solutions COURTESY PHOTO

Under a new strategic alliance starting next year, Priority Health will get access to more of Cigna’s national care network of hospitals, physicians, outpatient centers and diagnostic labs, and at better discounts. The alliance allows the Grand Rapids-based Priority Health, which has about 1 million members, to more aggressively pursue national accounts to provide health coverage to employers within Michigan who have employees elsewhere, as well as with companies in other states that have locations in Michigan.

“We feel we can grow substantially outside of the state of Michigan and truly service national accounts that are headquartered in Michigan,” said Rick Morrone, Priority Health’s senior vice president for employer solutions.

“We’ll be working together on all of these clients,” Morrone said. “There will no longer be competition between Cigna and Priority Health in the state of Michigan.”

In turn, Cigna’s 100,000 enrollees in Michigan will start to use Priority Health’s care network that’s one of the “fastest-growing networks in the state” and “will give greater choice to employers, and will help us achieve our goals of improving whole person health, and providing access to more affordable, predictable and simple health care for our Michigan clients and customers,” said Brian Marsella, Midwest market president for Cigna.

The new strategic alliance with Cigna starts Jan. 1, 2021 and replaces the prior agreement first signed two years ago. The difference between the new deal and what’s been in place with Cigna Payer Solutions, which works with health plans and third-party benefits administrators across the country, is Priority Health as well gets paired with Cigna’s broader national care network, Morrone said.

“It was an opportunity to be a part of their world and a part of their network, however it wasn’t the best deal in town. We now have the best deal in town,” he said.

Cigna has a global network of more than 1.5 million care providers, clinics and facilities with 17 million customers.

The strategic alliance announced this week builds on the ties between the two companies that were first established in the 2018 agreement and gives Priority Health more ability to compete for national accounts without starting “from ground zero” and having to go through the licensing processes and negotiate provider contracts in each state, Morrone said.

After landing the six existing national accounts with Michigan employers under the existing deal with Cigna, Priority Health opted to forge a deeper arrangement, Morrone said. He checked with carriers involved in similar alliances with Cigna around the country and “they had nothing but great things to say about how it was working,” he said.

“So, we said, ‘It’s time to take the full leap,” said Morrone, who calls the strategic alliance “a natural next step” in Priority Health’s business partnership with Cigna.

“We decided that we are a partnership that could work,” he said.

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