Aetna International Wysa

June 2020 Aetna International: iPMI


Aetna International has partnered with Wysa – to offer a free mental health wellbeing app to its international medical insurance customers. Launched during the Covid-19 crisis, the timing is particularly appropriate, as people struggle to deal with new situations and do so without the support of traditional non-distancing help.

The app is on top of recently enhanced member resources including the virtual health offering vHealth and the Aetna EAP (employee assistance programme). Wysa offers four key benefits:

An AI driven bot (programmed by therapists and learned from over 1.5m global users), which provides natural language conversational mental wellbeing support 24/7. It includes a ‘4am friend’ to reach out daily to ask ‘how are you today?’ with genuine empathy, Aetna says.

Self-help digital support programmes and exercises to help develop mental strength, resilience and confidence around specific concerns. So this could help from Covid 19 anxieties to finances to relationships the insurer says.
It connects with a human coach through text and chat in the app to give personalised human coaching to get people on the right track, offering practical guidance and next steps.
The app is customised to Aetna to signpost on to relevant onward Aetna support. That includes therapeutic counselling through the EAP and clinical support in the form of vHealth video and phone primary care.

At the beginning of April, Aetna also announced that SME employer plan sponsors in Europe, Middle East and Africa renewing their Summit group health insurance policies from 1 May - 1 July 2020, will receive one month of free health cover, as part of its ongoing efforts to alleviate financial and other pressures its customers are facing as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Comment: Aetna talks of a second curve of the C19 epidemic - a less visible but increasing wellbeing crisis.

At the beginning of April the insurer announced a month’s free cover effectively and in mid-May it added the Wysa app. Further developments also look likely.

These are strong positive moves delivering practical help, and the expat community is a prime candidate for rolling out such benefits. Although in the past such benefits have often been seen just as ‘nice to have’, more employers and individuals are now realising that their insurer can and probably should provide help over and above what is generally available locally.

A key issue going forward for insurance buyers will be how to value such benefits. Traditionally, premiums versus sums insured comparisons have been relatively straightforward. Add wellbeing and other largely digitally delivered benefits, and those value comparison s become probably more important, but rather harder to do.

Plus points: App based mental health wellbeing service; Free to users; Range of deliverables; Other benefits to help customers deal with C19 issues also announced.

Not so plus points: Comparing products by benefits not just financials is something the industry is not yet good at; Such benefits add complexity as well as value.


Rating (max 10): Overall: 8. Gold

Tags: iPMI; Aetna International

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