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Yahoo! to Craft Benefits Sites for Cigna

It's done portal work for the indomitable fast-food behemoth McDonalds, but Yahoo! Inc. Wednesday inked an even greater deal with Philadelphia's CIGNA Corp. to offer the benefits provider's health care members and retirement plan participants personalized benefits Web sites.

In a multi-million-dollar and multi-year pact, for which financial details were not made public, Cigna and Yahoo! have cut a deal to give 16 million consumers more control over health and retirement plans. Starting this year, users will be able to tap into their packages online from work, home, on the road and through their My Yahoo! home page.

How will this help Cigna network members? As with most portals, users will have convenient access to the tools they need to choose a doctor, review claims or order prescriptions. They'll also be able to view daily updates of their retirement plan performance, move 401(k) funds between accounts, change contributions and model their financial goals, said CIGNA Chairman and CEO H. Edward Hanway.

While the agreement should certainly give members a reason to be happy, the employers of the consumers who sign up for the service will benefit from improved service and information accuracy, as well as simplified administration.

And Sunnyvale, Calif.'s Yahoo! has landed its largest customer for its Yahoo! Enterprise Solutions; Cigna's site Cigna.com garners almost 15 million page view per month. Despite being a distinctly media-oriented company, Yahoo! has, for the past year or so, looked to diversify revenue streams by tapping the enterprise market to wield its portal services.

How it will work is that individualized Web sites will be generated through the use of personalization tools from Yahoo! The CIGNA online benefits offering, which is scheduled to begin rolling out in the first half of 2002, can be customized by employers and personalized for employees.

This service is expected to be available to CIGNA Retirement & Investment Services plan participants in 2002 and most of CIGNA HealthCare's 14.3 million members by the end of 2002.