Cigna’s Evernorth and Kaiser Permanente have inked a multi-year network agreement that aims to drive greater convenience and affordability.
The five-year collaboration will first center on enhancing access and convenience for Kaiser Permanente members by offering access to Cigna’s PPO network for emergency and urgent care outside of the health system’s service areas. Specialty pharmacy is also an initial focus, according to the announcement.
Through this partnership, Kaiser Permanente members can access more than 1 million physicians and other providers should they travel outside of the system’s markets.
“We intentionally designed Evernorth for unique partnerships like this one,” Evernorth CEO Eric Palmer told Fierce Healthcare. “We are uniquely positioned to create innovative and powerful collaborations across the industry to deliver even greater value to more people.”
In addition, as part of the partnership, Evernorth’s Accredo specialty pharmacy will become Kaiser Permanente’s preferred external pharmacy for limited distribution drugs. CuraScript SD, a subsidiary of the pharmacy benefit management arm Express Scripts, will also be a preferred distributor for certain specialty products.
Palmer said that Accredo and CuraScript SD work in tandem to address the costs associated with specialty pharmacy, which is a growing concern for many plan sponsors and insurers.
“With the explosion of specialty therapies coming to market to treat a wide range of complex conditions, specialty pharmacy plays a critical role in ensuring both access and affordability of these medicines,” Palmer said.
The partnership takes effect immediately, and Palmer said that the two organizations will continue to explore additional ways that they can work together to address cost and access over the next several years.
“We are excited to work with Evernorth to offer our members convenient, expanded access to high-quality care when they are traveling, through Cigna’s provider network,” said Arthur M. Southam, M.D., executive vice president of health plan operations and chief growth officer for Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., and Hospitals, in a statement.
“This will provide our members an improved experience, added convenience and greater confidence that if they get sick or are injured while traveling, they will have access to great care,” Southam said.