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iPMI Magazine Speaks With Jerome Droesch, CEO, Cigna, MENA

In this iPMI Magazine exclusive interview, Christopher Knight, CEO, iPMI Magazine, sits down with Jerome Droesch, CEO, Cigna following his appointment as Chief Executive Officer for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and Board Member of Cigna’s joint venture operations in India and Turkey.

Firstly, congratulations on your new appointment and thank you for sitting down to speak with us. May you introduce yourself and background in the international medical insurance market?

My name is Jerome Droesch. I am the CEO of Cigna for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and Board Member of Cigna’s joint venture operations in India and Turkey. I started my career in insurance in 1991 in France, with AXA, at a time when the industry was going through rapid transition around the world. It was exciting to witness the sector’s fast-paced evolution at the time. This dynamism across the various insurance segments, including medical insurance, has been a constant source of motivation for me. Today, I see unlimited opportunities for disruption in medical insurance, and I am glad to be part of this journey with Cigna, which has a 200-year legacy of driving innovation and impact in this space.  

You are responsible for building a customer-centric portfolio of offerings in the region in line with Cigna’s core promise to improve the health, well-being and peace of mind of those it serves. How will you do this?

Fortunately, I have access to a well-oiled and capable operations machinery at Cigna, where the priority has always been centered around improving the lives of the people we serve. This essentially means building products and solutions that complement the individual needs of the market. This speaks to our ambition to go deeper, go local and go beyond through network expansion, personalization and innovation.

To this end, we continue to invest in harnessing localized insights that can inform the decisions we make to customize our portfolio. You can already see this difference in the products and solutions we have introduced in the past year within the IPMI segment. Whether it is helping individuals adopt better lifestyle choices or expanding our support, so customers have access to healthcare anytime, anywhere, our focus is on guaranteeing well-being every step of the way.

Over the past year, Cigna has launched its first-ever individual private medical insurance (IPMI) solution for the Middle East region. Can you walk us through the features of this IPMI plan?

Cigna HealthguardSM is a flexible health plan created for individuals and their families living and working in Dubai. This unique offering fills a critical gap in the local health insurance market by meeting the long-term health and well-being needs of a globally mobile population – which was apparent through our research in the region. Our annual Cigna Wellbeing Survey, for example, showed that up to 45 percent of respondents in the UAE pay for their own medical expenses, and that a majority of individuals are concerned about financing their family’s long-term health needs.

In response to this, Cigna HealthguardSM offers a flexible structure and modular approach that allows customers to tailor their plans according to personal needs for their assured long-term well-being. The plan has three tiers - Regional, International and International Plus – which customers can choose from, based on their travel and budget requirements.

Earlier this year, we introduced a refreshed and updated version of this solution for our customers after listening to the feedback that they have shared with us over the last year.

Besides the core offering such as out-patient consultation, inpatient and day-patient hospital treatment, our plans include health screenings, preventative dental treatment, evacuation and repatriation. Customers also have the option to include the Enhanced Healthy Connect Module. This module offers benefits such as 360 health screenings, genetic cancer screening, allergy tests and dietetic consultations

Moreover, our extensive regional and international network as well as its professional network make Cigna HealthguardSM a standout global product for Dubai’s expatriate population. We have an international network comprising over one million relationships, including 96,000 behavioural healthcare professionals and 11,400 facilities and clinics. Cigna also offers 24/7 multilingual customer service that includes prior authorization requests, finding providers and claims enquiries, and ensuring customers have the very best of care available as and when needed.

The Cigna Wellbeing AppTM further enhances our IPMI offering by allowing customers to access tools and resources designed to help with all their wellness needs. These include a biometrics tracking dashboard, an extensive health library containing articles and recipes, general health and targeted health and personality assessments as well as lifestyle coaching across the health spectrum. It also includes a Tele-health feature that allows users to connect with a doctor or specialist via phone or video, from the convenience of their home or office.

How is the IPMI market developing in the 1, Middle East and 2, North Africa, and how will these markets evolve in the next 5 years?

The region’s insurance market is ripe for expansion, with factors such as a rapidly expanding population, growth of the middle and affluent classes, and rise in chronic health conditions contributing to this trend. In the GCC alone, healthcare expenditure is reportedly set to grow to US$104.6 billion in 2022 from an estimated US$76.1 billion in 2017. We are seeing similar growth in markets such as Lebanon, where healthcare spending accounts for over seven percent of the GDP.

Besides the ongoing efforts towards infrastructure development and general well-being awareness in the region, we expect digital innovation to play a vital role in the IPMI sector. Specifically, innovations driven by big data analysis and AI will bring much-needed efficiencies to the sector. We are seeing this change in countries such as the UAE, where the adoption of AI solutions is expected to increase the country’s GDP by $96bn by 2030.

What role do mandatory health insurance schemes play in the adoption of IPMI?

Mandatory health insurance is an important driver in the growth and adoption of IPMI products and services. In markets such as the UAE, where regulations to this effect have been longstanding, the demand for highly personalized care is on the rise. Whereas, in markets such as Oman, Bahrain and Kuwait, where mandatory health insurance policies are still at a nascent stage, there is room for more organic growth. This also comes down to the population mix in these markets. The UAE, with a 90 percent expatriate population offers a different playing field than Oman, for example, where the expat population accounts for just over 40 percent of the total. Yet, Oman’s Health Ministry confirms that only about nine percent of Omanis and 10 percent of expats in the private are currently insured, demonstrating a huge market opportunity waiting to be tapped.  

Can you explain what a typical IPMI customer looks like in the 1: Middle East, and 2, North Africa?

The main distinctions in customer profiles are more apparent in markets where we see a higher presence of expatriates. In the UAE, for example, our products cater more to the globally mobile population, including people who are likely to seek health treatments abroad and especially in their home country. In Lebanon, on the other hand, the focus is on localized healthcare. We introduced our global health benefits (GHB) proposition for employers in Lebanon in 2018, which on one hand guarantees access to the one million providers in our network worldwide, but also promises localized sales, underwriting and finance services to clients, as well as offers the insured population access to nuanced customer service and a strong network of 1,600 healthcare providers across the country. 

What do IPMI insurers need in 2019?

Insurers today are grappling with elevated levels of wastage, owing to insurance fraud especially within the individual medical insurance segment. This is a common challenge faced by the industry across the world, and one that costs millions on a yearly basis. Digital intervention and AI are increasingly paving the way for a more transparent and less fraudulent insurance ecosystem. However, greater collaboration between the public and private sector will further mitigate the effects of this issue. Knowledge-sharing and a timely exchange of best practices can streamline the sector in a way that was previously not possible. In 2019, we also need to see more provisions in place to build individual insurance offerings around the needs of the customer, whether it means greater security or more convenient access to healthcare. 

One of the most widely asked questions at iPMI Magazine is how big is the IPMI market. What do you think?

There is no single number that could effectively gauge the value of the global IPMI market. Fluctuations due to population rise, policy changes and other factors continue to impact IPMI prospects. Various reports value the global IPMI market between $12 billion to $13 billion in 2015-16, expected to grow to over $20 billion by 2019.

Last and not least, if you could live anywhere, on land or at sea, where would it be?

It would be Biarritz in France. I have a beach house there and the city is very lively and famous for surfing.

Related: Cigna Insurance Middle East Names Jerome Droesch New Chief Executive Officer

Learn more about Cigna IPMI and read news, articles and interviews on the micro website on iPMI Magazine, click here.



Over Two Thirds Of Globally Mobile Workers Are Unhappy With The Time Available To Spend With Family

Over two thirds of globally mobile individuals (72%) are unhappy with the amount of time available to spend with family1, whilst almost a quarter of those (24%) who are single or living alone suffer from loneliness2, reveals a study by health insurer Cigna.

The Cigna 360° Wellbeing Survey - Globally Mobile Individuals found that people working overseas worry more about their own and their families’ health and wellness than those who reside in their home country.  Over three quarters (76%) reported they cannot adequately take care of their children’s various needs and wellbeing3, whilst worries about their dependents’ education is intensified by the lack of a family support network.

Less than half (42%) felt their employer offered adequate “duty of care” to them6, with 40% not in receipt of any medical benefits by their company7. All globally mobile individuals (100%) subsequently worried about illness, with cancer and the fear of accidents the main triggers, followed by mental illness, including depression8.

“Whilst working overseas has its benefits, the reality of life in a new country can be an emotional upheaval,” said Phil Austin, CEO Cigna Europe. “Working practices are different, not to mention the cultural, lifestyle and language changes, which can make coping with life’s challenges more difficult.

“Our findings show a deep insecurity about family health and wellbeing, coupled with social isolation and increasing loneliness, which is exacerbated by the loss of a support network.  It’s imperative that employers pay attention to the needs of their globally mobile employees and, as a health partner, we remain committed as ever in delivering solutions to tackle this.”

As one of the world’s leading providers for globally mobile employees, Cigna is well placed to offer solutions, including the recently launched mobile health and wellbeing app, Cigna Wellbeing®.

Recognising the challenges employees and their families face in a new country, Cigna Wellbeing® provides real-time health and wellness coaching in multiple languages, together with 24/7 video and telephone consultations with doctors, nurses and healthcare specialists.

Benefits include access to the International Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) which provides a platform to speak about worries and concerns including practical advice on living abroad. Whilst the Chronic Condition Management Programme provides a dedicated nurse to ensure appropriate treatment and pathway, including coaching for physical and mental support.

Download Cigna Wellbeing® here:  

[1] Cigna 360° Well-being Survey - Globally Mobile Individuals

2 Cigna 360° Well-being Survey - Globally Mobile Individuals

3 Cigna 360° Well-being Survey - Globally Mobile Individuals

4 Cigna 360° Well-being Survey - Globally Mobile Individuals

5 Cigna 360° Well-being Survey - Globally Mobile Individuals

6 Cigna 360° Well-being Survey - Globally Mobile Individuals

7 Cigna 360° Well-being Survey - Globally Mobile Individuals

8 Cigna 360° Well-being Survey - Globally Mobile Individuals



Cigna Opens New Global Sales Centre For Global Individual Private Medical Insurance Business At Dubai International Financial Centre

Cigna Corporation (NYSE:CI), a global health services company, has opened its new Global Individual Private Medical Insurance, (Global IPMI) Global Sales Centre at the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) to support significant growth in its expatriate individual health care business.

The Global IPMI business line, which serves expatriates and globally mobile individuals around the world, is one of Cigna’s fastest growing segments. The new Global Sales Centre will bring together broker sales and support teams as well as direct telemarketing, underwriting and retention teams serving brokers and customers all over the world. Many colleagues have relocated to Dubai from Cigna’s global head office for the Global IPMI business line in Glasgow, Scotland.

Cigna previously announced the opening of a regional management office at DIFC to offer management support for its locally regulated offices in the Middle East and North Africa region.

Ryan O’Donovan, Managing Director of Cigna’s Global IPMI business unit said, “We are delighted to expand our global individual private medical insurance capabilities with the opening of our new Global Sales Centre. Delivering a five-star customer experience is at the core of our promise to the people we serve, and this starts when they first get in touch with us to explore their health care options. Our colleagues in Dubai will expertly guide our global customers to find the IPMI plan most suitable for their needs as well as providing expert support to our global broker partners 24 hours a day, five days a week.”

He added, “Dubai’s strategic location as a global financial and commercial hub offers customers around the world a valuable opportunity to benefit from our best-in-class health insurance solutions. Based on our positive experience working with DIFC Authority, we look forward to leveraging DIFC’s unmatched business environment to grow our global individual private medical health insurance business and improve health outcomes for our customers.”

Cigna has operated in the MENA region for over 15 years through local partners. In 2017, Cigna entered in to a reinsurance agreement with Zurich Insurance Middle East (ZIME), where Zurich is the local insurer and Cigna is the reinsurer and international service provider. This new service model enables Cigna to own the end-to-end customer experience and offer market-compliant insurance solutions across the region.

Across the MENA region, Cigna serves over 130,000 customers and enjoys 800 employer relationships. Cigna maintains global sales capabilities in 30 countries and jurisdictions, employing over 41,000 people that service more than 95 million customer relationships throughout the world. To learn more about Cigna®, visit

Cigna Opens New Global Sales Centre For Global Individual Private Medical Insurance Business At Dubai International Financial Centre


Cigna and CVS Health Launch Cigna Health Works

Cigna and CVS Health has announced the launch of Cigna Health WorksSM: a new collaboration, that aligns Cigna-administered health benefits with CVS Pharmacy and CVS MinuteClinic retail health care services to deliver an innovative consumer-friendly experience for Cigna self-funded employer-sponsored health plans.

This collaboration brings together the health benefits insights of a global health service company with the deep knowledge of retail consumer behaviors of a leading national retail pharmacy and retail health care provider to help patients get the most from their health benefits at their local CVS Pharmacy, including:

  • Customer engagement and personalized pharmacy support using Health Tag® Messages on the prescription bag to advise patients of needed health actions by the pharmacist or clinician, and provide information on available Cigna Health and Wellness Coaching services included in their Cigna plan at no additional cost
  • Contracted discounts at CVS MinuteClinic for select preventive and acute care, including biometric screenings for blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar as well as diagnosis and treatment for minor illnesses such as bronchitis, ear infections and strep throat
  • A CVS ExtraCare Health card that provides an exclusive 20 percent discount on CVS Health brand over-the-counter health related products, including pain relievers, vitamins, digestive health products and more, at CVS Pharmacy locations nationwide
  • Plus, this program can be coupled with Cigna 90 Now, which offers 90-day refills for maintenance prescriptions to help improve patient adherence to their medication regimen, cost savings and satisfaction.

This new personalized health and wellness program is now being offered on a select market basis for U.S. Cigna-administered employer-sponsored medical plans.

“Cigna Health Works flips the traditional health care experience on its head to help make health benefits more effective, affordable and user-friendly,” said Michele Paige, Vice President and General Manager of Cigna Onsite Health®. “This new model is based on how the customer wants to consume health care -- it’s about creating value and a new way for health care consumers to get more from their health plan, by ensuring that we are there for them at the places they prefer to go for convenient care.”

“This new level of collaboration with Cigna is a part of the growing trend toward consumer-directed care,” said Helena Foulkes, President of CVS Pharmacy. “By providing information and cues for CVS customers and patients to help them get the most from their Cigna-administered health benefits, we also help them improve their health and reduce their health care costs in a way that’s easy and convenient.”

Improving Health, Costs and Care Connectivity

According to Ms. Paige, Cigna Health Works provides both the opportunity to improve health care quality, while reducing employer and individual health care costs as well as potential gaps in care.

Notably, the Cigna Health Works initiative offers the opportunity for significant health care cost savings by offering an effective and appropriate alternative to Urgent Care and Emergency Room visits. Cigna data show that roughly 45 percent of their customers’ Urgent Care facility visits could have been conducted at retail health care clinics, potentially reducing their health care costs by 81 percent per visit.1

“As the popularity of retail health care continues to rise, Cigna Health Works is designed to help improve health care quality and address potential gaps in care. In some markets, up to one-third of Cigna customers have used some form of retail health care within a year’s time,2” Ms. Paige said.

Cigna Health Works can help address important health concerns such as lack of a primary care physician or access to a pre-diabetic health screening. Through Cigna Health Works, CVS MinuteClinic nurse practitioners can offer Cigna-administered plan customers immediate access to acute episodic care at discounted rates, as well as low cost A1C blood sugar testing, while CVS pharmacists provide affordably priced medications.

Also if a Cigna Health Works patient does not have a primary care physician, the MinuteClinic staff will provide them with a list of Cigna-contracted physicians from the health plan’s provider network.

For Cigna customers who have a designated primary care physician, Cigna Health Works connects to their physician by ensuring an electronic record of each visit to CVS MinuteClinic is sent to their office by the nurse practitioner.

“By connecting all constituents in the care continuum, Cigna Health Works is designed to close potential gaps and improve the quality of care our customers receive,” Ms. Paige said.

1 Cigna Next Gen Access Opportunity Analysis Report, Greater South Florida, 1/2015 – 12/2015

2 Cigna Next Gen Access Opportunity Analysis Report, Chicago and Greater South Florida, 11/2013 – 10/2014

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Medical, Healthcare, Expatriate And Travel Insurance

A guide to leading international medical, healthcare, expatriate and travel insurance underwriters, companies, providers, operating within leisure, expatriate and corporate travel business markets, globally.