- Cigna is expanding the reach of its individual market plans by more than 50% in 2021, adding 79 new counties, the Connecticut-based payer announced Wednesday.
- Key features of the plans include no copay for virtual visits, including behavioral health providers, a new diabetes care plan that includes no copay for diabetes equipment and supplies and increased coverage for nontraditional healthcare services, like acupuncture, for customers who access coverage through the Affordable Care Act marketplace.
- The new benefits are available in most counties, but not all. For example, the $0 telehealth benefit isn't available for plans in Colorado, and some other plans might have a copay, coinsurance or deductible for virtual care.
Cigna has had a continued presence in the exchanges since their launch in 2014, but is significantly expanding its customer reach with the 2021 plan lineup released Wednesday. Next year, the payer will offer individual and family plans in 220 counties in 10 states: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Virginia.
By comparison, rival Centene, the payer with the biggest footprint in the ACA exchanges, covers about 2 million people across 20 states.
Features added to Cigna's individual marketplace offerings last year, including a program capping insulin costs at $25 per month for a 30-day supply and access to a customer loyalty program rewarding healthy lifestyle activities, will also be included next year, per the release.
Cigna is also trying to increase its digital touchpoints, a favored strategy of insurers trying to get consumers more involved in their day-to-day care. Plans include access to the myCigna mobile app and the Cigna One Guide, a personalized tool informed by data insights and linked to the payer's customer service to help consumers navigate benefits, nudge them toward healthy behaviors and answer questions about their care.
Additionally, the insurer's real time benefit check program lets doctors check the cost of treatment options during an appointment with a Cigna-covered patient, in a bid to help consumers shop between potentially pricey medications and services.
The enrollment period for the individual exchanges for the 2021 plan year begins Nov. 1 and ends Dec. 15.
Like other major U.S. payers, Cigna reported skyrocketing profit in the second quarter as beneficiaries deferred care amid the pandemic. Net income of $1.75 billion was up almost 25% year over year.
Rising profits for insurers during the public health crisis has sparked a House committee investigation into the industry's practices, but the volatile economic environment could quickly swing against payers through increased COVID-19 treatment costs and lower enrollment amid the recession.
Cigna did see a modest decline in commercial clients in the quarter. But amid staggering profits, the industry has attempted to publicize efforts to reinvest in patient care. From the onset of the pandemic, Cigna (along with most of its peers) has waived out-of-pocket costs for COVID-19 testing and treatment, foregone prior authorization for patient transfers, ER visits and home healthcare services and expanded access to virtual care.
The payer saw more than 132,000 virtual visits through its vendor partners Amwell and MDLIVE from the beginning of COVID-19 through June, and its new plan offerings are clearly meant to capitalize on that momentum with free telehealth access.
Cigna's Wednesday announcement is fresh off an unfavorable court ruling for the insurer. Earlier this month, a Delaware court ruled neither Cigna nor Anthem could collect damages from their failed $54 billion merger floated in 2015 that quickly soured in negotiations. If the deal had gone through, it would have resulted in the country's biggest private health insurer.
Correction: A previous version of this article included incorrect numbers provided by Cigna for the number of new counties, increase in customer reach and overall counties served. The numbers in the article have been updated.