Evernorth, Cigna’s health services business, selects Bicycle Health for virtual opioid use disorder treatment, the companies announced Thursday.
Based in San Francisco, California Bike health offers addiction treatment medications that prescribe FDA-approved medications to help with withdrawal symptoms, prevent overdose, and aid in long-term recovery. This is done through its telehealth platform, which also provides access to a team of medical experts, a personalized treatment plan, same-day prescription refills for medication management, peer support groups and therapy. The Services can be accessed through a computer browser or phone through its application, which can be downloaded from the Apple App Store or Google Play.
The company, which currently provides care in 24 states, works with health plans under a value-based care model in which it pays based on patient health outcomes.
Through this contract, Evernorth members receive a telephone appointment call with a Bicycle health professional to determine if the program is right for them. Cigna health plan customers who receive coverage through their employer or marketplace exchange plans can also access Bicycle Health services through their benefit packages. After the enrollment call, an appointment is scheduled with a Bicycle Health provider. All meetings happen in an audio/video call through the app.
The company is also working with Cigna to identify hospitals that treat large numbers of opioid-addicted patients, said Ankit Gupta, CEO and founder of Bicycle Health.
“From there, we’ll build seamless integrations to ensure that every patient gets the care they need and doesn’t need to come back to the hospital,” Gupta said.
Several companies are looking to address the opioid scourge through virtual addiction treatment programs. They include Occupational health, Stone care and Trustee health. The latter recently announced works with Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield of Virginia to treat opiate use disorder. But Bicycle Health has the largest national footprint and the largest health plan coverage of any virtual opioid use disorder provider, Gupta said. He was also the first to publish a peer-reviewed studyhe advertised.
There is no doubt that the opioid crisis is severe and all approaches, including virtual treatment, should be explored. Nearly 10 million Americans struggle with opioid addiction, but only 10 percent are diagnosed or in treatment, Gupta said. Additionally, 40% of rural Americans live in a county without a provider that offers addiction treatment, and in-person rehab stays cost over $15,000 per month.
There are also non-financial reasons to avoid getting help in person.
“Not to mention that the societal stigma surrounding addiction prevents many from seeking traditional treatment options for fear of discrimination and isolation,” Gupta added.
Therefore, the virtual treatment modality offers a sense of anonymity and privacy that can help Americans struggling with opioid addiction to stick to the treatment, Gupta said.
“Working with Evernorth will allow us to reach more of those Americans who need opioid use disorder treatment but aren’t getting it—with a clinically proven private treatment option that’s covered by their insurance.” said Gupta. “We also hope that this collaboration will go further.” [opioid use disorder] stigma by opening the door to treatment in employer health plans. This will ultimately move the needle on Bicycle Health’s goal of helping more people achieve lasting recovery from [opioid use disorder].”
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