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Evernorth, a subsidiary of major insurer Cigna, is teaming with telehealth company Monument in an effort to make it easier for customers to access alcohol use disorder (AUD) treatment through the latter’s virtual platform.
By joining Evernorth’s behavioral health network, Monument’s services – including therapy, prescription medications and peer support – are now available to all Evernorth clients, as well as Cigna health plan customers who receive health coverage through their employer or marketplace exchange plans in 20 states.
WHAT’S THE IMPACT
What Monument does, said Evernorth in its announcement, is provide an evidence-based virtual treatment program that offers customers specialized psychotherapy, physician-prescribed medications to treat alcohol use disorder, and peer support.
Expanding access to these methods is more urgent than ever, the company said. Alcohol use has been on the rise for the last two decades, and nearly 60% of people have increased their drinking during the pandemic, according to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics.
Further numbers provided by NCDAS paint a chilling picture. About 7% of drinking-age adults have AUD, and 95,000 Americans die each year from the effects of alcohol use. That translates to about 261 Americans per day. Eighty percent of those deaths involve adults aged 35 or older.
Roughly 26% of people aged 18 years and older report binge drinking in the past 30 days, the statistics showed.
And the COVID-9 pandemic is only making the situation worse. Online liquor sales rose 262% year-over-year (YoY) in the first 3 weeks of March, coinciding with most state-wide lockdowns, and liquor store sales increased 54% YoY during that same time period.
In a Johns Hopkins-University of Maryland-Baltimore survey, 60.1% of participants report drinking more alcohol after March 1, 2020. More than 34% report binge drinking at least once; 7% report extreme binge drinking. Almost 46% report increased stress as a reason for their increased drinking.
THE LARGER TREND
Cigna launched Evernorth in September 2020 as a rebrand of its health services portfolio. It includes Express Scripts, specialty pharmacy Accredo and eviCore healthcare, which provides utilization management services for health plans or employer groups and outpatient diagnostic imaging service programs.
The open business model was intended to bring together Cigna’s health services as well as outside partners in pharmacy solutions, benefits management and care solutions. This will help solve problems across a fragmented healthcare ecosystem, Cigna said last year.