Continuing its health care venture activity, Cigna has put up $250 million to fund early- and growth-stage startups. Overseeing these investments, Cigna Ventures will target nine business lines across three sectors: insights and analytics, digital health and retail, and care delivery and management. This comes on the heels of the payer's investments in Omada Health, Prognos, Contessa Health, MDLIVE and Cricket Health.
What It Signals
Cigna is expanding its investment portfolio to drive innovation in such areas as improving risk assessment, health care network optimization and patient care plan assessment, notes HealthPayer Intelligence. At the same time, the payer aims to create additional return on investment for its health care business. Cigna is not alone in this strategy. UnitedHealth Group, the nation's largest insurer, announced in November that its Optum health services business unit was launching Optum Ventures, a $250 million venture fund with a similar focus on investing in startup and early-stage firms to help transform health care.
What It Means
Regardless of whether these venture capital plays succeed — and there are always big risks — large payers like Cigna, Aetna and UnitedHealth signal a more active role in driving health care transformation. Cigna made that clearer just days before the Cigna Ventures news when it said its shareholders had approved a $67 billion merger with Express Scripts, which the Justice Department cleared Sept. 17. This move will expand the ability of both companies to use member data to create more seamless patient experiences.