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Life Happens, Health Follows: Approaching Health Care as a Complete Picture

Article | June 2019

Life Happens, Health Follows: Approaching Health Care as a Complete Picture

More Americans than ever are stressed.1 And globally, 64 percent of people blame an “always on” work culture as a direct cause of that stress.2 It’s not surprising then that the 2019 Cigna 360 Well-Being Survey–Well & Beyond– found that the overall well-being (or lack thereof) of the largest segment of the current U.S. workforce–35- to 49-year-olds–is impacting business.

“With all of life’s responsibilities, we often neglect our personal health and make little decisions that have serious long-term implications on our health and well-being,” says Rhonda Toole, Vice President, Client and Customer Engagement, Cigna. “It’s common for a busy person to grab an unhealthy lunch, stress about the revolving door of bills they have to pay or cancel a workout because they allow something else to take higher priority.”

The reality is when life happens, health follows. According to the American Institute of Stress, people who are highly stressed are less likely to eat healthy, exercise, and get half as much sleep. In fact, stress drives more than 75 percent of primary care doctor visits.1 Now more than ever, it’s critical for both individuals and businesses to think about health holistically rather than viewing it as separate pieces.

“At Cigna, we believe a healthy body and mind is impacted by 5 dimensions: physical, emotional, environmental, financial, and social factors,” says Kristin Jordal, Vice President, Health Engagement, Cigna. “That is why our approach to support workplace health and well-being, called Health Accelerated: Life Connected®, is a way for us to help clients and their employees by addressing their whole health needs.”

Our goal is to partner with employers to optimize their workforce health and well-being. Leveraging the Life Connected approach, we can help drive better health, greater resiliency, and increased productivity by looking at the following 5 dimensions of well-being:

  • Physical Health: Putting Fitness and Nutrition at the Forefront

    A healthy body maintained through healthy choices is still one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of preventable disease and illness. With everything going on in their lives, most employees exercise less than 15 minutes on a typical work day–5 minutes less than recommended.2 Through Life Connected, Cigna offers a variety of tools to support physical health and increase energy, including digital coaches that help employees track their weight, stress, and alcohol intake. Cigna can also partner with employers to help encourage healthier eating at the workplace by implementing nutritious cafeteria options, catering at company events, vending machine choices, hydration stations, and onsite nutrition seminars.

  • Emotional Health: Coping with Stress

    “Stress manifests itself through anxiety and depression for more than 16 million Americans3, hindering their productivity and engagement at work and at home,” says Toole. “We often need help dealing with life’s stressors and adapting well in the face of threats and adversity.”

    To help, Life Connected offers many of Cigna’s digital tools, like Happify™, to help individuals cope with life’s challenges, while providing tools for employees to better understand and address the stigma associated with mental health.

  • Environmental Health: Improving Creativity

    Our physical environments can affect our mood, our productivity, and our creativity, so investing in programs that support individual well-being can lay the groundwork for a competitive edge. Cigna helps businesses create healthy work environments by conducting environmental assessments, implementing green initiatives, and providing recommendations for ergonomics.

  • Financial Health: Preparation and Peace of Mind

    No surprise here, but 72 percent of Americans are stressed about money, and that doesn’t stop when they go to work.4 Cigna helps to relieve financial stress by providing digital tools and resources that give individuals peace of mind while helping manage their financial future.

    “Our financial well-being provides a sense of security and relief from financial stress,” says Jordal. “We want to give individuals the right tools to understand their financial situation, feel prepared to manage unexpected changes, and define a path toward future financial goals.”

  • Social: Staying Connected & Engaged

    Creating and maintaining positive relationships provides a sense of connection and belonging, but sadly, only a reported 53 percent of Americans have meaningful, in-person interactions daily.5 For example, through our Coach by Cigna™ Leaderboard Challenges, Health Equity Employer Toolkit, and other products, we help empower individuals to better connect with their communities.

“We want to help employers fundamentally shift how they approach workforce health and well-being by creating a stronger connection between life and health,” says Toole. “When we have the opportunity to connect the dots across health and well-being services, we can deliver a more streamlined, proactive, and coordinated support system to improve health, productivity, and peace of mind.”

Couple happily jogging outside

1 Stress: America’s #1 Health Problem, American Institute of Stress, January 4, 2017, https://www.stress.org/americas-1-health-problem

2 National Health Statistics Report, Debra L. Blackwell, PhD, and Tainya C. Clarke, PhD, MPH. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr112.pdf, Accessed June 28, 2018.

3 Major Depression, National Institute of Mental Health, February 2019, https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/major-depression.shtml

4 The 2018 Stress in America™ Survey, American Psychology Association, October 30, 2018, https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2018/stress-gen-z.pdf

5 Cigna 2018 U.S. Loneliness Index, https://www.cigna.com/assets/docs/newsroom/loneliness-survey-2018-full-report.pdf, Accessed May 30, 2019