Kaiser Permanente has negotiated its first partnership to use a rival insurer’s commercial network, beginning in August.
Under the five-year agreement announced Tuesday, Kaiser‘s more than 9 million members seeking emergency care while traveling outside the eight states served by the Oakland, California-based system can visit providers contracted with Cigna. Kaiser members will be responsible for the standard cost-sharing associated with their plan rather than paying out-of-network benefits.
When Kaiser patients visit Cigna providers, their bills will be routed through Cigna’s Evernorth healthcare services division, a spokesperson said. The deal is intended to lower patient costs, streamline administrative services and increase healthcare access.
A Kaiser spokesperson declined to disclose terms of the deal. The agreement does not apply to Kaiser’s Medicare and Medicaid enrollees.
It isn’t the first time Cigna has made its PPO available to rivals. In 2020, Cigna partnered with insurtech Oscar Health to launch a jointly branded plan for small employers in California. The Cigna+Oscar plan relies on Cigna’s provider network and competes with Kaiser.
As part of the Kaiser agreement, Cigna’s Accredo specialty pharmacy service will become its preferred pharmacy for certain, limited distribution drugs, such as Cayston, Kalydeco and Symdeko, all of which are used to treat cystic fibrosis, the spokesperson said. Specialty product distributor CuraScript SD will be Kaiser’s preferred supplier for other specialty products.
Both Accredo and CuraScript SD are operated under Cigna’s Evernorth arm.