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Few insurance companies can say they date back to the days of pirates, but Cigna is one of them. The Insurance Company of North America was founded in 1792 as the nation’s first marine insurance company, protecting cargo from the perils of sea crossings. Within a few years they added life insurance policies for sea captains – including benefits if pirates captured the captain.
In 1865 the Connecticut General Life Insurance Company was incorporated, and by 1919 they had moved into the health insurance market. The two companies continued to grow and expand, and eventually merged in 1981, and took on the name Cigna. In 1983 the newly merged company moved its headquarters to Philadelphia.
In 2012, Cigna acquired Health Spring, which greatly expanded the company’s role in the senior health care market. They began to offer a full range of Medicare products from Medicare Advantage to Supplement, with coverage available across the country.
However, in January of 2016, the government suspended Cigna’s ability to write new Medicare policies, either Part C or Part D due to findings in an audit of Cigna’s handling of claims and coverage. At the time of this review, Cigna has not yet resolved the issue and is not accepting any new Medicare members. The company does, however, still offer Medicare Supplement plans, as these are not impacted by the suspension. Cigna does plan to resume writing new Medicare business in the future.
In addition, Cigna is awaiting approval on a merger with Anthem that will make the combined company a major force in the healthcare industry. A decision on that merger is expected in 2017. In 2016, Cigna ranked at number 79 on the Fortune 500 list, and will likely climb higher if the merger goes through.
Cigna’s Medicare Plans
Although Medicare Advantage and Part D are still listed on the Cigna site and current policyholders are still being serviced, the company is not accepting any new applications for these plans. As a result, the only Medicare plans currently available from Cigna are the Medicare Supplement plans. Therefore, they are the only plans that we will address in this review, pending resolution of the suspension.
Cigna offers a good range of Medicare Supplement plans, more than many other players in the market. This offering is not surprising given they are a health insurance company first and foremost, while many other companies offering Supplement coverage have other insurance lines as their main focus. The availability of plans does vary from state to state.
Plan A is the most basic option, covering co-insurance for Parts A & B as well as hospice. From there, Cigna offers plans that gradually step up the amount of coverage. They offer Plans B, C, D, F, G, and N. They also offer an HDF plan, which is the same coverage as F with a high deductible; this is generally done to reduce premium costs.
Cigna offers an easy to read chart displaying all of the available Plan options and what they cover, but it’s unclear which plans are available in which states. In order to find out what’s available to you, you’re required to fill out an information form that includes entering personal information. You can also contact Cigna by phone.
Just as detailed information about the plans can’t be accessed online, Cigna also doesn’t provide rate information readily. In order to get a quote, customers are required to fill out a form and submit it, or call Cigna’s customer service line.
For a large insurance company looking to become even larger, it’s disappointing to see that there is not a simple method of obtaining rate information without having to enter personal information that is likely to result in solicitation efforts.
Ratings and Reviews
We have already noted that Cigna didn’t perform well in an audit of the Medicare plan servicing, resulting the suspension of their right to sell new policies. That’s immediately a bad sign for the company’s reputation. Among the complaints in the audit were “systemic failures” that prevented Medicare customers from accessing medical care and prescriptions, putting their health and safety at risk.
These complaints were aimed solely at the Part C and Part D coverage that has now been suspended, but it’s difficult to believe that similar servicing problems might not exist with other Cigna policies.
There are no Medicare-specific review sites or sections for Cigna, so all ratings and reviews are for the company overall. Pissed Consumer has 293 reviews of Cigna with an overall star rating of 1.3. Complaints range from poor customer service to denial of claims. These are fairly common complaints for insurance companies.
We see similar comments at Consumer Affairs, where there are 506 reviews, but only 125 star ratings for an average one-star rating. There are a few good reviews in among the negative ones. The complaints are very similar to those on other review sites, and very close to what we see for every major health insurance company. Given the size of Cigna, the number of complaints is not terribly high, although higher than we like to see.
In spite of noting the ongoing suspension from the government, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) still gives Cigna Health Spring, which is the combined company through which Cigna writes Medicare coverage, an A+ rating. There are only 19 complaints with the BBB, 4 of which were closed in the past 12 months. This may be due to the fact that many policyholders may not realize there is a separate BBB page for the Medicare portion of Cigna.
Overall, there are not a large number of complaints for such a big company, but the suspension that is still in progress is a major red flag and difficult to ignore. Hopefully, however, it means that Cigna will come out on the other side having improved their customer experience.
The Bottom Line
Cigna is a huge company, but currently too much about them is up in the air to recommend them as a Medicare Supplement provider. With the suspension and the merger still hanging over Cigna’s head, many people will want to look elsewhere for coverage, at least until the dust settles and we get a clear picture of how Cigna will perform going forward.
For a list of companies that we recommend, visit our Best Insurance Companies page.