A recent JAMA report found American life expectancy is declining for the first time in half a century, which some experts point to our flawed health care system as the leading cause. David Cordani, president and CEO of Cigna Corporation, one of the largest health insurers in the U.S., said there is a way for all Americans to have access to affordable, high-quality care.
“We think the best way to do that is to embrace and further expand public-private partnership, which means the private system working with the government to drive constructive innovation around that,” Cordani told Fox News.
The number of Americans without health insurance climbed to 27.5 million in 2018, the first year-to-year increase in a decade. While some Democratic presidential candidates have argued for “Medicare-for-all” plans, which would provide health insurance to every American and restructure the health care system, Cordani doesn’t think it’s the right solution for our country.
“We don’t believe a one-size-fits-all financing program like ‘Medicare-for-all’ is the solution, especially when you consider the massive, wonderful diversity of the U.S. population and importantly, the amazing diversity around how care is actually delivered and cure norms that exist across the United States,” Cordani said. “We agree that affordable health care is critical. Choice is mission critical and expanding what is working in the United States and building on what’s working and then driving further innovation. We think that’s the important part of the solution set.”
As political pundits and presidential hopefuls continue to squabble over how to rebuild today’s health care system (with slashing drug prices and surprise medical bills at the top of their talking points), the future of health care, Cordani said, should focus more on treating the “whole person.”
“We’re trying to connect what we call the whole-person health, the mind and body, because the psychological and psychosocial needs are connected to the physical needs. But all too often, health care systems around the world are disconnecting those. We’re seeking to connect them,” Cordani explained.
In 2017, of the 46.6 million adults with any mental illness, 42 percent received mental health services. Cordani spoke about a particular meeting he had with large physician groups who told him that the number one need they had for patients was more mental health resources, something they didn’t have enough of in their community.
“What they were looking for from us were training tools and resources to help their medical professionals, physicians and nurses become first lines of defense, as they put it, or capable of dealing with base mental health management around stress, depression, loneliness, et cetera,” Cordani said. “We think that’s great because we can get to better whole person health and better quality of life outcomes.”
In his book, “The Courage to go Forward,” which he co-authored with Dick Traum, the founder of the Achilles Track Club for disabled athletes, Cordani elaborated on the benefits of whole person health and how micro communities can help improve them.
“A micro-community is a means by which individuals…can pursue their goals with the benefit of endless love and encouragement. It is a place where they can be themselves and aspire to achieve something great,” Cordani wrote in the book.
Whether it’s an individual who’s confronted with a health issue or a disabled veteran participating in a race, people involved in a micro-community help those around them achieve things they never even thought possible.
“The benefit of the micro-community is you come in support of someone and you help to support them both mentally as well as physically in terms of achieving a goal,” Cordani said. “And then to the participants in the micro community. There’s a really positive reinforcement mechanism in terms of setting a goal even higher. Most things are possible. The power of the human spirit and will come through that lens. So it’s a rather powerful system if you can unlock it.”