Bringing Mindfulness to Work

The third-largest health insurance provider in the US introduced a meditation program—and others have followed suit. 

Mark Bertolini is CEO of Aetna, the third-largest health insurance provider in the United States, and he knows firsthand what mindfulness can do. Eleven years ago a skiing accident left Bertolini with a broken neck and plenty of prescriptions for pain medication. He credits mindfulness with helping him heal.

“The biggest breakthroughs in managing my pain occurred as a result of the meditative practice,” he told Mindful. “Learning new ways to think about the pain and new ways to control it had huge impacts on my ability to manage it.”

Inspired by such personal experience, the leadership at Aetna is working to increase access to meditation instruction. Last year, the company rolled out Mindfulness at Work—a regular 12-week, online meditation program—to Aetna staff and to commercial customers who pay for their employees’ health insurance claims and use Aetna for administrative and other services.

The program is aimed at minimizing work-related stress and improving worklife balance. It was designed in collaboration with Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D., an expert on mindfulness in the workplace, and eMindful Inc., a provider of online programs that focus on mind-body wellness. To add to their mindfulness offerings, Aetna also introduced…