Friday, February 23, 2024

Cigna, HelloFresh Team Up To Improve Access to Healthy Food – MedCity News

Cigna Healthcare launched a partnership with HelloFresh on Tuesday to expand access to healthy food for those covered by their employer.

Bloomfield, Connecticut-based Cigna Healthcare is the health benefits division of The Cigna Group. The insurer has about 19.5 million members. HelloFresh, based in Berlin, Germany, is a healthy food company that delivers food and recipes to people’s homes.

Through the new partnership, up to 12 million members of Cigna’s employer customers will gain access to HelloFresh’s meals at a discounted rate. Employees can receive e-gift cards, discounted meal kit subscriptions or one-time food box deliveries. Each delivery includes pre-portioned ingredients and steps on how to make the meal. The members can receive these offerings without a HelloFresh subscription.

“This partnership emphasizes the important role that home cooking plays in supporting consumers’ overall health and well-being,” said Adam Kalikow, senior vice president and managing director of meal kits at HelloFresh U.S., in a statement.

In addition to supporting Cigna’s members, the insurer and HelloFresh are partnering through HelloFresh’s Meals with Meaning program. The program offers free meal kits to those battling food insecurity in local communities.

Cigna chose HelloFresh as a partner because it provides “access to fresh food through different food delivery plans and price points and also shares Cigna Healthcare’s commitment to making a difference in our communities,” said Heather Dlugolenski, U.S. commercial strategy officer for Cigna Healthcare, in an email. “By partnering with HelloFresh, we can bring our clients discounted meal kit options to make wholesome eating easy, accessible, and affordable for their employees.”

There’s a need for more affordable access to healthy food, research shows. According to Cigna’s 2023 Vitality in America study, about one in three U.S. workers reported facing food insecurity within the previous three months. In addition, about six in 10 Americans have at least one chronic disease, according to the CDC. Diet-related chronic diseases represent about 20% of healthcare costs each year in the U.S.

“We’re seeing a greater push from organizations big and small towards health equity, taking social determinants of health into account, to help ensure all people have the opportunity to achieve optimal health and live with vitality,” Dlugolenski said. “This is playing out in a concerted effort between employers and payers to build equitable and inclusive benefits.”

In partnering with HelloFresh, Dlugolenski added that Cigna’s goal is to “support the health and vitality of America’s workforce and to make a difference for communities in need.”

Several other healthcare organizations are also making efforts to tackle food insecurity, though they have different strategies. Elevance Health recently hired a food as medicine director. Alignment Healthcare launched co-branded Medicare Advantage plans with Instacart. Highmark Health has a pilot in West Virginia that offers eligible residents debit cards to purchase healthy food at Dollar General stores. In addition, Kaiser Permanente made a $50 million commitment to food and nutrition security.

Photo: fcafotodigital, Getty Images

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