Lakers legend turned entrepreneur Magic Johnson is teaming up with health insurance giant Cigna to combat health disparities and support minority and female-owned businesses in the greater Los Angeles area, it was announced Thursday.

As part of the initiative, Cigna is rolling out a suite of customized health care plans for companies with more than 25 employees that include health and lifestyle services for specific issues that disproportionately affect people of color, such as asthma, heart disease, diabetes, and high-risk pregnancies.

Cigna will also invest an additional $3 million in local charitable organizations, aimed at improving health equity and addressing social determinants of health in Los Angeles and throughout California.

“Minority and women entrepreneurs and business owners are vital to creating a strong economy and vibrant communities — and we need to do even more to support them right now,” Johnson said.

“It’s important for these businesses to survive and be able to employ Black, Hispanic and other employees of color, while offering benefits to combat the health disparities that have taken a toll on our communities,” he said. “Together with Cigna, we are providing the tools and information needed to improve the health and productivity of their workforce.”

Public health officials in Los Angeles County and at the state level have spent months stressing the inordinate impact of the coronavirus pandemic on minority communities, which generally have less access to quality health care and healthy food options. Other factors making these communities more vulnerable to COVID-19 include higher-density living arrangements and an over-reliance on public transportation.

“Health is wealth; and for many minority and women-owned businesses, the key to economic prosperity is to ensure they have and maintain a healthy and vibrant workforce,” said Mike Triplett, president of Cigna’s U.S. Commercial business.

“Today’s intersection of health, economic and racial crises motivated us to take definitive action to partner with these small and mid-size businesses by improving the health and productivity of their workforce — many of whom are from underserved communities,” he added. “We are excited to team up with the legendary Earvin `Magic’ Johnson to bring our new initiative to the market.”

The specialized Cigna plans include:

— access to local health care providers who excel in treating underserved communities, are culturally trained and offer bilingual services;

— whole-person health services, with access to clinicians, psychologists and therapists;

— virtual care options for medical, behavioral and mental health services so that people can get care in any setting they choose;

— retail, home delivery and specialty pharmacy options; and

— access to financial, legal, identity theft and other “peace-of-mind” services through Cigna’s employee assistance program.

Johnson launched a successful career in business after a storied basketball career that saw him lead the Lakers to five NBA championships. His Magic Johnson Enterprises is a Beverly Hills-based investment company that includes stakes in many businesses across the United States, including movie theaters, restaurants and sports franchises.

The company has more than 10,000 employees across all its locations.

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