Jason Sadler of Cigna discusses his company's approach to healthcare with Paul Robertson.
Which leads to customer perceptions. The one thing nobody wants is a low grade PMI, it is just not what the product is about. So how do you manage expectations in these cases?
“Well I do not know whether it is the right analogy, but, if you look at the motor industry, typically you ring up and there will be approved repairers, and that is how to manage cost.
“Obviously when it comes to healthcare, it is more personal, but insurance companies have a responsibility to do it in the right way and they have a responsibility to explain to customers why they are doing it.
“If you want something different, then there are other options that you can take, that is an interesting area of growth.”
But what of Cigna in all this? What is Cigna’s end-game here in the UK? Sadler visibly perks up at this question: “Okay, one word, growth. Our global strategy is to go deep, go global, go individual. Going deep is about improving existing relationships with our customers, focusing on the individual. Global is obviously expanding our global footprint.
“In my part of the business, the Health, Life and Accident, we were already very much leaders in the affinity space, particularly in the Asian markets.
“When the First Assist opportunity arose, here we saw a business which had affinity relationships with over 150 partners in the UK, three million customers and also had this very good travel expertise.
“So we saw an ability whereby we could bring our range of products into the UK, to offer more to their existing partners, which was very positive.”
It is not all one way, and Sadler expects to take First Assist’s travel expertise out to other markets. So what is the big challenge for Cigna?
“Actually, one of the biggest challenges is there are still so many opportunities,” Sadler said. “Growing awareness on the importance of wellness, health, need for medical insurance, supplemental cover, there’s a big protection gap in most of those markets.
“Overlying that though, regulatory environments are continually changing and evolving. The developing markets are quickly catching up with the highly regulated markets of the European and developed markets.
“The US sees positive opportunities outside the country. At the same time, the US business is also expanding within America. They recently acquired Health Spring, which actually specialises in healthcare for the elderly segment, the retired segment in the US. That was an acquisition that was announced a few weeks ago.”
But would Cigna consider moving into long-term care over here? It is clearly on Cigna’s radar: “Long-term care is not an area of focus for us at the moment. But it is an area I have personally reviewed and discussed on numerous occasions. There is clearly a need and it is clearly a growing market,” said Sadler.
“I think the challenge with long-term care is, when people can afford to pay it is not on their mind. By the time it approaches actually needing it, the costs become too expensive.”
Regardless of ambitions, in common with many other insurers, Cigna is promoting the basics this year: “I think there is heightened awareness on making sure that people do have some basic form of protection,” said Sadler.
“Even basic things like hospital cash, plugging some of those basic gaps; actually having some options that can actually meet needs some of the way – we are seeing much more awareness of that. Our partners particularly want to be able to have those solutions for their customers.”
CV: Jason Sadler
July 2010 to present: Chief executive officer of Cigna International’s Global Health, Life and Accident (HL&A).
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