Cigna Corporation has been providing life and supplemental health insurance – and peace of mind – to consumers in Taiwan for the past 27 years. Now Cigna is exploring opportunities to expand beyond insurance to provide health and wellness services in Taiwan leveraging Cigna Corporation’s global health expertise and best practices in other markets around the world. Cigna is now one of the world’s leading global health and wellness service companies and is dedicated to helping people improve their health, well-being, and sense of security.
“We are taking a fresh look at Taiwan from a global perspective, not just for our supplemental health products but for the whole range of services that Cigna can bring in,” says Tim Shields, the recently arrived new General Manager and CEO of Cigna Taiwan. “We don’t see ourselves as a pure life insurance company,” he explains. “The health landscape is where Cigna is at, and that’s where we are looking for growth over the next decade.”
A veteran of the insurance industry, Shields is bringing his extensive experience in growth markets ranging from Indonesia to Dubai to Vietnam to look for opportunities to provide health and wellness services to Taiwanese consumers.
“We do health and wellness solutions globally, and are looking at what is applicable for the Taiwanese consumers,” he says. “Where are the opportunities for us to understand the Taiwan consumers’ needs? What are their fears? Where are the gaps?”
Cigna prides itself on its research into consumer needs, and is looking at the Taiwan markets based on the insights it has garnered. For example, Cigna recently surveyed 1,000 Taiwanese consumers for its Cigna “360° Well-being Score.” “The number one concern we found was health and wellness,” notes Shields. “And that’s where Cigna is strong.”
Cigna Corporation, which has more than 200 years of history, is dedicated to offering an integrated suite of health-related services, such as medical care, dental care, vision care, behavioral health, pharmacies, supplemental benefits, and other related products, along with its group life, accident, and disability insurance plans.
With a global team of 39,000 employees serving 90 million customers in over 30 countries, Cigna operates in a broad range of health and wellness sectors based on the basic assumption that “health improvement is the only sustainable solution to ensure the well-being and security of the customers that Cigna serves,” according to the company website.
In the United States, for example, Cigna recognized a number of challenges that Americans face in ensuring health and wellness. As most health clinics operate only during regular business hours, many Americans are simply too busy with their jobs to see a doctor, particularly for preventative physical exams and screening tests. Further, Cigna noted research indicating that 70% of health-risk factors are controllable, and that less than 20% of older workers get the necessary exercise to forestall muscle and bone-density loss and other age-related disorders.
As a solution, the company offers the Cigna Onsite Health service, a health and medical clinic at or near a worksite and staffed by a range of healthcare professionals to better ensure the well-being of workers onsite. The clinics’ physicians or master’s level clinicians (such as Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants) work with employees as needed, allowing them to see the doctor easily and get treatment for health problems onsite as well as obtaining education on preventative measures and health awareness.
“Cigna is one of the largest health companies in the world and our mantra is about customer insight and meeting customer needs,” said Shields. “It is not just about providing protection insurance plans. While insurance may play a part in managing health risks, Cigna Taiwan wishes to help customers take proactive actions to prevent risks and manage life.”
Shields noted that Cigna Taiwan is looking at the possibility of bringing similar health and wellness programs to Taiwan in the future should it serve local customers’ needs, based on the recognition that Taiwan is moving towards a highly aging society that will impose stress on its healthcare systems.
Taiwan has one of the world’s most affordable and most accessible healthcare systems, providing excellent care through the National Health Insurance (NHI) program. While this system is currently well-administered, the government is looking for measures to ensure its fiscal soundness and quality service as Taiwan’s population ages and the healthcare needs of its citizens increase.
Ministry of Interior statistics show that Taiwan is an aging society with 3.14 million people aged over 65 years old. Taiwan is projected to become an aged society in 2018, with over 14% of its population over the age of 65, and a super-aged society, with the elderly comprising 20% of the population, by 2026. Adding to the challenge is the rapid rate at which Taiwan is aging. Taiwan is already one of the fastest aging societies in the world, going from an aging society to an aged society in only 25 years, and projected to become a superaged society in a blistering seven years – far faster than any other country.
The implications for the healthcare system are enormous. As of 2011, when the elderly comprised only 10% of Taiwan’s population, the elderly already consumed 30% of the healthcare resources, and this proportion will only grow. As Taiwan likewise has one of the world’s lowest fertility rates, with women having only 1.2 children on average as of 2015, the number of people drawing off the system will increase as the number of workers paying into the system decreases.
Although 99.6% of the population is covered by NHI, the demand for supplemental health insurance is expected to mount as out-of-pocket spending takes up a larger proportion of healthcare expenditures.
The latest Cigna “360° Well-being Score” survey results coincided with these trends, as Taiwanese people surveyed said health and protection needs are top priorities. While, Taiwan’s overall well-being score was slightly up year-on-year, the performance with regard to financial aspects remained the least satisfactory of all pillars. A full 44% of respondents expressed concern that they won’t have enough medical coverage upon retirement. The family health and well-being score also dropped because people surveyed thought they could not satisfy the financial and health needs of their parents and children. All of these findings indicated that Taiwanese people need more protection and support.
To meet the needs of its Taiwan consumers, the company already offers supplemental health insurance that can provide added coverage in case of critical illness and income protection in case accident or illness prevents someone from working.
“Looking globally, issues such as aging population, health concerns, and funding of a national health system are widespread. You can look at any government around the world and know those are the top priorities under health and wellness. Taiwan is no different,” Shields said.
“The great thing with Taiwan is we have one of the world’s best national health systems, the NHI. Obviously that covers a number of needs. Cigna Taiwan’s supplemental health products are really an addition on top of that.”
Addressing Taiwanese people’s increasing craving for healthy lives, Shields said that’s where Cigna Taiwan can help because as part of a global health company, Cigna Taiwan can do much more than traditional insurance companies.
To serve customers’ longing to live well, Cigna Taiwan not only continues providing supplemental products to help people strengthen protection, but also works to extend its services to customers’ daily lives and help them take actions to improve health. Examples include the Cigna Wellness Platform, Fitness app and the holding of an annual walking event. And with the new CEO on board and a new commitment to the Taiwan market, Cigna’s presence in health and wellness will only grow.
“We are an organization who would prefer people to be healthier and still have the insurance protection behind them,” Shields said.