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DU Selects Cigna As New Health Care Provider

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Human Resources and Inclusive Community


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Dear faculty and staff,

As announced last week, the University issued a request in January for proposals to health insurance carriers for all benefited employees. Proposals that met the full list of specifications issued by Human Resources and Inclusive Community (HRIC) were received from Anthem, Cigna and Kaiser. Cigna stood out among the three for providing far greater choice of providers and specialists, employee cost savings, increased equity in areas of mental and reproductive health, nationwide coverage and greater access to major medical networks and hospitals in Colorado.

We understand that your health and the health of your family is your top priority. These are our top priorities, too, which is why we are striving to offer you the best employee health benefits plan available.

In mid-March, an RFP Review and Evaluation Committee was seated to review and assess the three finalists. After a careful analysis of the proposals, a majority were favorably impressed by Cigna’s offerings. While committee members debated a number of views, committee leads ultimately put forward a recommendation to go with Cigna. In the end, senior leaders made the decision to switch to Cigna as the health care provider for current benefited employees. Effective July 1, 2021, health benefits will transition from Kaiser to Cigna for all current, benefited employees.

We realize this is a significant change, and that it is coming at a particularly stressful time of the year, and during a pandemic. One of the most important considerations in this decision was ensuring a seamless transition for employees electing benefits. The University of Denver and Cigna are committed to supporting employees through every step of the transition process.

Cigna has assured us that individuals receiving certain medical treatments will be offered the opportunity to stay with their current provider until the end of treatment. There are several conditions covered under this continuation of care provision. One-to-one conversations with Cigna experts will guide families through this process.

At this time, we anticipate that open enrollment for health care will take place in May, as usual. In the meantime, we have provided some preliminary information about what you can expect with Cigna’s plan:

More choices, coverage and a deep commitment to equity of care

  • Cigna offers access to more doctors, hospitals and other health care providers and facilities in the Denver area and nationally. In Colorado, you will have access to more than 18,000 providers and 60 hospitals, including specialty hospitals: University, National Jewish and Children’s Hospital.
  • You will have access to the largest mental and behavioral health network in the Denver/Boulder area.
  • Cigna offers expanded mental health services and infertility treatment services, something our community specifically requested.
  • Cigna has demonstrated a commitment to cultural competency and health equity, another important DU value. With a greatly expanded pool of diverse health care providers, Cigna allows DU to meet employee calls for increased equity in mental and behavioral health—an especially important outcome at a time when two pandemics have impacted the lives of members of our community.

Commitment to quality

Cigna has a demonstrated commitment to quality and has invested substantial resources in a broad scope of quality programs, validated through nationally recognized external accreditation organizations.

More flexibility and convenience

  • Cigna offers access to in-network health care when you travel outside Colorado. You will also have out-of-state coverage for your dependents.
  • You will be able to see a specialist without a referral from your primary care doctor.
  • You will also have access to virtual visits for both medical and behavioral issues, so you can get the quality care you need anytime—day, night and on the weekend.

More customer service availability

  • Cigna offers access to a 24/7/365 customer service line that provides “white glove” assistance all day, every day.
  • Cigna's personalized customer service and clinical support helps you take control of your health and helps you make health care decisions.

Premium-free month

  • All current benefited employees will receive a month free of premiums in November.

Lower costs

  • With the elimination of the wellness incentive tied to premium costs, 46% of DU employees will see a total of 22-33% in total savings this year.
  • For those employees who do not utilize the wellness incentive program, the average savings will be 13% this year.
  • The annual cost to the University will be reduced by $1.2 million and those savings will be substantially returned to you. 

Flex day in May or June

  • In order to provide some dedicated time to work through the transition to Cigna, all current benefited employees will have the opportunity for a full flex day to be taken any day in May or June. Please consult with your supervisor to determine the best time to take this day.

Other benefit improvements

  • Life insurance coverage will expand.
  • Short-term disability coverage will expand.

We know that this message will inspire many questions. To address many of them, we are hosting several town halls beginning next week. Here are the details for next week:

Introduction to Cigna
Tuesday, April 13, 2021
3:00-4:30 p.m.
Link to join
Passcode: 922949

We have also provided answers to frequently asked questions on the Cigna Transition website and will continue to update the information frequently. On this website, you can review the information shared previously, the current set of frequently asked questions or pose a new question.

A final note about our retirees. Medicare-eligible retirees will be able to stay on the Kaiser Senior Advantage Plan with no rate change through Dec. 31, 2021.  Early retirees (under 65) will need to move to a Cigna plan. However, if an early retiree has a spouse on a Kaiser Senior Advantage Plan, the spouse can remain on that plan. Additionally, if the retiree is on the Kaiser Senior Advantage Plan and has a spouse on the Kaiser HMO, they can remain on the Kaiser Plans.  We will share additional information about health care benefits directly with retirees very soon.

This last year has taught us many important lessons, including that none of us can afford to take our health and well-being for granted. More than ever, it is important to have access to quality health care. We are committed to helping ensure we provide the necessary support to DU employees as we make this transition to Cigna.


Jerron Lowe
Interim Vice Chancellor for Human Resources