NASVHILLE — One of the most powerful voices in healthcare is calling on the industry to rethink consumer needs, acknowledging patients' frustration with costs and industry's obligation to respond.
"Society demands more value from us sooner, and they should as it relates to more personalized affordable, predictable services," David Cordani, CEO of Cigna, said speaking at the payer industry's annual conference.
As the 2020 presidential election nears, Cordani said the industry is faced with an important question on its response to demands for change. After years in the cross-hairs of the politically charged debate over the Affordable Care Act, many Democratic hopefuls are pushing for "Medicare for All," pitching it as a solution for the current healthcare system's woes.
Cordani alluded to Medicare for All in his pitch for the industry to deliver its own solutions.
"We all know there is an election coming up and we all know there is a present narrative around this because society demands more value from us today. The question is: are we going to resist, are we going to collaborate, or as we look at the path forward, will we choose to lead by being able to identify the bright spots that are working?" he asked.
For its part, Cigna is promising to bend the cost curve of healthcare by committing to deliver a rate of medical cost growth that will not exceed the consumer price index by 2021.
Industry needs to rethink how it envisions consumers. Leaders need to think about the American earning $50,000 who's trying to navigate the system and gets a surprise medical bill, he said.
"We need to pivot from solving things on average, or explaining things in aggregate, and come back to the individual consumer level," Cordani told a ballroom full of health insurance employees and providers during the annual gathering of America's insurance plans, organized by the powerful lobbying group AHIP.
Consumers are basically saying to healthcare companies: know me, help me and make it easier and simplify it, Cordani said.
"Before anybody can be helpful to a person, you need to know that individual," he added.
The message fits in with Cigna's current strategy after acquiring Express Scripts for nearly $70 billion and in line of vertical integration across the industry.
Cigna is betting that the future of health insurance is managing the whole person — not just their medical benefit or their pharmacy benefit, but the totality of their care including behavioral health and dental.
Failing to do this creates more fragmentation in the industry, he said, and causes more frustration for patients.