Cigna Medicare Insurance Review

Large global company has a long history of offering a range of Medicare plans

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Cigna

 Cigna

Our Take

Cigna is one of the nation’s largest and oldest health insurers with a global presence. Cigna’s scale extends to Medicare Advantage, where it is one of the top ten plans by membership. It offers a range of Medicare plans, with national coverage for Prescription Drug Plans and near national coverage for Medigap plans. However, Cigna’s Medicare Advantage plans are only available in 18 states. Cigna plans range in price, but tend not to be the lowest.

  • Pros & Cons
  • Key Takeaways
  • Company Overview
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • 24/7 access to telehealth

  • Several types of Special Needs Plans

  • Robust support for people with complex needs

  • Lots of member services available online or on the myCigna app

Cons
  • Prices can be higher

  • Average quality ratings are fairly high, but few plans get top scores

Key Takeaways
  • Cigna is a large, global company with a long history and solid foundation.
  • It offers Medicare Prescription Drug Plans and Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medicap) Plans in virtually every state, but Medicare Advantage in just 18. 
  • Cigna offers three types of Special Needs Plans, more than many competitors.
  • Monthly premiums and deductibles may be competitive, but out-of-pocket maximums may be on the high side. 
  • Cigna emphasizes medical and behavioral health support for members with complex health needs and offers a range of extra benefits to support its Medicare members.
Company Overview

Cigna ranked number 13 on the 2020 Fortune 500 list, up 52 spots from 2019. Modern-day Cigna was formed when INA and Connecticut General merged and began offering health insurance under the Cigna name. Cigna operates globally, with 17 million medical coverage customers in more than 30 countries.

Cigna is the eighth-largest U.S. health insurer with $29 billion in premium revenue and 2.7% of overall market share, and the sixth-largest Medicare Advantage plan (known as Cigna-HealthSpring).

Geographical Restrictions

Cigna offers Medicare Advantage plans in 16 states and Washington, D.C, and Medicare Prescription Drug Plans in all 50 states. Cigna’s Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) plans are available in every state but Massachusetts and New York.

  • Year Founded 1792
  • Kinds of Plans Medicare Advantage HMO and PPO Plans; Stand-alone Prescription Drug Plans (PDP); Dual-eligible Special Needs Plans (D-SNP); Chronic Condition Special Needs Plans (C-SNP); Institutional Special Needs Plans (I-SNP); Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) Plans
  • Number of Plans 6
  • Payment Options Pay Medicare Advantage and Part D Prescription Drug Plan premiums online, with automatic payments, by check or money order via mail, or via automatic deduction from Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefit checks. You can also pay Prescription Drug Plan premiums by phone. For Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) premiums, pay via automatic payments or by mail.
  • Customer Service Telephone, mail, online, or via the myCigna app
  • Phone Numbers Medicare Advantage Plans Prospective Members: (855) 984-1401; Prospective Members in Arizona: (855) 298-4384; Current Medicare Advantage Members: (800) 668-3812; Current Medicare Advantage Members in Arizona: (800) 627-7534; Prescription Drug Plans Prospective Members: (855) 391-2556; Current Prescription Drug Plan Members: (800) 222-6700; Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) Plans Prospective Members: (888) 482-6557; Current Medigap Members: (866) 459-4272
  • Official Website www.cigna.com/medicare/

Pros Explained

  • 24/7 access to telehealth: Cigna Medicare Advantage members can consult with doctors at any time via MDLive.
  • Several types of Special Needs Plans: Cigna offers Dual-eligible Special Needs Plans for people who qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid. It also offers Chronic Special Needs Plans and Institutional Special Needs Plans, which not as many insurers offer.
  • Robust support for people with complex needs: Cigna emphasizes its case management, medication management, and behavioral health services designed for members with complex health needs.
  • Lots of member services available online or on the myCigna app: Members can access features like member ID cards, claims information, provider information, and program details.

Cons Explained

  • Prices can be higher: Though many Cigna plans have low or no premiums, they may have higher out-of-pocket maximums. Members who are likely to use a lot of services may wind up paying more out-of-pocket.
  • Average quality ratings are fairly high, but few plans get top scores: Only one Cigna plan scored a 5.0 out of 5.0 in CMS Star Ratings, and many plans scored 3.0 to 4.5.

Available Plans

Medicare Advantage Plans

Cigna offers several types of Medicare Advantage plans, including HMO, PPO, and Special Needs plans. Some Cigna plans include prescription drug coverage and extra coverage like dental and vision. For members who choose prescription drug coverage, pharmacists work with doctors, specialists, and case managers to help coordinate care. Members can access their ID cards, provider information, claims history, and benefit details online. Cigna also offers 24/7 telehealth services for members who need to consult a doctor for minor medical issues and provide access to behavioral health support for depression, anxiety, and substance use.

HMO Plans 

HMO plans typically require members to have a primary care provider (PCP) who helps coordinate care and acts as a gatekeeper to other health care services.

PPO Plans

PPO plans tend to offer more flexibility in seeing out-of-network providers than the other Medicare Advantage plans.

Special Needs Plans (SNP) 

Special Needs Plans (SNP) are for Medicare enrollees who have specific conditions and offer the benefits of Medicare Advantage, including prescription drug coverage, plus additional services and programs designed for members with special needs. Cigna offers three types of Special Needs Plans (SNPs), including Dual-eligible Special Needs Plans (D-SNPs) for people with both Medicare and Medicaid, Chronic Special Needs Plans (C-SNP) for members with diabetes, and Institutional Special Needs Plans (I-SNPs) for people who live in long-term facilities or need the type of care usually delivered by a nursing home. 

Cigna SNPs offer care management services to help members manage chronic conditions; interdisciplinary care teams help members coordinate care across health care providers. Each member gets an individualized care plan based on their specific risks, needs, and goals. SNP members may also get extra support when they transition from one kind of care to another, like when they move from the hospital to a skilled nursing facility.

Standalone Prescription Drug Plans 

Stand-alone Prescription Drug Plans (PDP) cover medications that fall into the Medicare coverage gap, but do not offer any medical coverage or other benefits. These plans work alongside Original Medicare Parts A and B, and Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) plans.  

There are three types of Cigna PDPs, including:

  • Rx Secure: Basic coverage with low monthly premiums, copayments, and costs on many generic drugs and insulin, ideal for people who qualify for Medicare’s Extra Help program
  • Rx Secure-Essential: Modest coverage with very low monthly premiums and very low costs on many generic drugs
  • Rx Secure-Extra: High level of coverage with higher monthly premiums, low out-of-pocket costs, and more comprehensive drug coverage 

Details about each plan option are available on Cigna’s site or Medicare.gov. You can enroll in a Cigna PDP online or by phone, mail, or fax.

Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) Plans

Medicare Supplement plans, also known as Medigap, cover some of the costs that Original Medicare doesn’t cover like copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles. You must have Medicare Parts A and B, and you can’t have Medicare Advantage, to get a Medigap plan. There are 10 standardized plans that cover different costs; not all are available in every state. Medicare.gov offers information about Medigap plans, but you buy them directly from private insurers. These plans do not require members to use any specific provider network, so the coverage is portable and flexible. 

  • Medigap Plan A offers basic benefits, while Plan B adds coverage of the Medicare Part A deductible. 
  • Plans C, F, and G cover the most out-of-pocket costs for Medicare services, but they also tend to have higher premiums and lower out-of-pocket costs. Only people who became eligible for Medicare before 2020 can buy Plan C and F. 
  • Plans K and L have lower monthly premiums. They pay a portion of coinsurance rather than a specific dollar amount.  

Cigna offers several types of Medigap plans, including: 

  • Plan A: Slightly extra coverage
  • Plan F: The most coverage, no out-of-pocket costs for Medicare-covered services
  • Plan F (high deductible): Plan F coverage with a higher deductible
  • Plan G: More coverage, lower premium
  • Plan N: Lower premiums, predictable out-of-pocket costs  

All Medigap plan benefits are the same no matter the insurer, but costs and any additional benefits can vary. 

Extra Benefits

Most Medicare Advantage plans offer extra benefits, such as fitness, dental, and vision benefits, as well as hearing aids, over-the-counter medications, and meal benefits. These benefits have become increasingly common and Cigna offers many extra benefits, consistent with industry trends.

Dental 

Cigna partners with DentaQuest, a national dental benefits provider, for members who get dental coverage through their Cigna Medicare Advantage plan. Coverage and benefits vary by plan.

Vision

Cigna Medicare Advantage plans include vision services covered by Medicare, like eye exams. They may also include allowances for the cost of eyeglass frames and lenses or contact lenses.

Hearing

Some Cigna plans include hearing benefits that cover hearing exams, hearing aid fittings, and allowances to pay for hearing aids through Cigna’s hearing partner, Hearing Care Solutions.

Over-the-Counter benefits

Cigna members get a quarterly allowance for over-the-counter pharmacy products like vitamins, non-prescription medications, and personal care supplies. Members can place orders as frequently as once per month and rollover any unused money month to month, though it must be used by Dec. 31. The dollar value of the allowance varies by plan.

Transportation

Some Cigna plans include transportation benefits for non-emergency trips to health care facilities within 60 miles of your home. These trips may be with a taxi, van, or rideshare service through Cigna’s relationship with Access2Care. The maximum number of trips varies by plan.

Fitness

Cigna members can use the Silver&Fit Healthy Aging and Exercise program for gym memberships and home fitness programs.

Home-delivered Meals 

After a hospital or skilled nursing facility stay, Cigna Medicare Advantage members can get a set number of meals delivered through GA Foods. Members can use this benefit up to three times per year.

Health and Wellness Discounts

Cigna members can get discounts on health and wellness programs, including acupuncture, vision correction surgery, and yoga products. You must be a Cigna member and log in to your online account to access them.

BenefitsCheckUp

This program helps people find programs that help to pay for housing, food, or prescriptions.

Customer Service

Cigna offers several options for customer service, including online, by phone, and by mail. Online chat is available for some Cigna members.

Medicare Advantage 

Prospective members interested in learning more about Cigna Medicare Advantage plans can call 855-984-1401 from 8 a.m.–8 p.m. EST seven days a week between Oct. 1 and March 31 each year. Between April 1 and Sept. 30, phone support for prospective members is available from 8 a.m.–8 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday.

In Arizona, prospective members call (855) 298-4384, 8 a.m.–8 p.m., local time, seven days a week between Oct. 1 and March 31 or Monday through Friday between April 1 and Sept. 30.

Current members should call (800) 668-3813, from 8 a.m.–8 p.m. EST, seven days a week between Oct. 1 and March 31 each year, or Monday through Friday between April 1 and Sept. 30.

Arizona members call (800) 627-7534, 8 a.m.–8 p.m., seven days a week between Oct. 1 and March 31 each year, or Monday through Friday between April 1 and Sept. 30.

Customer service is also available by mail: Cigna, Attn: Customer Service, P.O. Box 20002, Nashville, TN 37202. Arizona members can mail Cigna, Attn: Medicare, P.O. Box 29030, Phoenix, AZ 85038-9971.

Medicare Prescription Drug Plans 

PDP prospective members can call (855) 391-2556, 8 a.m.–8 p.m., EST, seven days a week year-round, though an automated phone system may answer calls on weekends between April 1 and Sept. 30.

Current members of Cigna PDPs can call (800) 222-6700, 8 a.m.–8 p.m. EST year-round, though an automated phone system may answer calls on weekends between April 1 and Sept. 30.

PDP members can mail Cigna Medicare Prescription Drug Plans, P.O. Box 269005, Weston, FL 33326-9927. 

Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) Plans 

Prospective members interested in Cigna Medigap plans can call (888) 482-6557 from 8:30 a.m.–8:30 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday. 

Current Medigap members call (866) 459-4272 from 8 a.m.–8 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday.

Special Needs Plans (SNP) 

Caregivers of Cigna SNP members with questions can call (800) 668-3813 from 8 a.m.–8 p.m. EST, seven days a week.

Customer Satisfaction 

The 2020 complaint index for Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company was 0.93, slightly below average across all lines of insurance. A score of 1.00 represents the average, with lower scores being better. Cigna's rating was 1.09 in 2018 and 0.88 in 2017. For individual accident and health insurance, the rating was 1.08 in 2020, 1.02 in 2019, and 1.00 in 2018. The Medicare Supplement insurance plans scored worse in 2020 (2.04), but better in 2019 (0.80) and then very poorly in 2018 (4.44).

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) tracks complaints against insurers of all types, including health insurers. In its complaint index, NAIC divides the company’s share of complaints by its share of premiums in the U.S. market. A score of less than 1.0 means the insurer received fewer than expected complaints; a score of greater than 1.0 means they received more than expected. For example, a score of 2.0 conveys that the company had twice as many complaints as expected.

Cigna’s Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) received more than four times the expected number of complaints in 2018, though that dramatically improved in 2019 and 2020 and the overall complaint numbers are relatively small ( 17, 5, and 11 in 2018, 2019, and 2020 respectively).

Third-Party Ratings

AM Best

Cigna operates a number of subsidiaries which are reviewed by AM Best, the credit rating agency that assesses insurance companies’ financial strength. AM Best upgraded Cigna HealthSpring from an A- to an A (Excellent) Financial Strength Rating. The rating of Cigna HealthSpring reflects what AM Best categorizes as adequate operating performance as well as its strategic value to Cigna overall with Cigna’s commitment to building the Medicare Advantage business.

NCQA

The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) is a leading health plan accreditation organization. In the 2019-2020 ratings, Cigna’s Medicare plans scored between 2.5 to 4.0 out of 5.0. These composite scores include measures of customer satisfaction, including satisfaction with the consumer’s ability to get needed care, satisfaction with the doctors, and satisfaction with the health plan. 

J.D. Power

In its 2020 U.S. Medicare Advantage Study, J.D. Power measured member satisfaction with Medicare Advantage plans. On the overall customer satisfaction index, Cigna HealthSpring ranked sixth overall with a score of 781 points out of 1,000, placing it below the industry average of 800.

Medicare Star Ratings

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) rates Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plans on a five-star quality rating system. These ratings are based on how well the plans help members stay healthy and manage chronic conditions, as well as how members rate their experience with the plan and its customer service. Star Ratings vary by state, county, and plan. 

In the 2021 Star Ratings, Cigna’s plans received between 3.0 and 5.0 out of 5.0 Stars. The average Cigna Star Rating is 3.88 overall. Its Medicare Advantage Part C plans average 3.83 Stars and its Part D Prescription Plans scored an average of 3.70. Just one Cigna plan earned a perfect 5.0, while five out of 12 plans that were rated earned a 3.0 or 3.5.

Cost

When considering health plan costs, monthly premiums are the most obvious metric. Sixty percent of Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug Plan enrollees paid no premium in 2020, and the average premium for all Medicare Advantage enrollees, including those with and without premiums, was projected to be $21 per month in 2021.

Monthly premiums do not tell the whole cost story; check other out-of-pocket costs, like deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance, and the out-of-pocket maximum which sets the cap for what you could have to pay in a year.

Cigna’s Medicare Advantage 2021 price ranges include:

HMO plans with prescription drug coverage

  • Monthly premiums range from $0 to $139, averaging $14.21; most (63%) of Cigna’s HMO plans have no monthly premium.
  • Deductibles range from $0 to $445, averaging $90.39; most (65%) have no deductible.
  • Annual out-of-pocket maximums for in-network services range from $1,000 to $7,550, averaging $5,804.

HMO plans without prescription drug coverage

  • Cigna’s HMO plans without prescription drug coverage have no monthly premiums or deductibles.
  • Annual out-of-pocket maximums for in-network services range from $3,900 to $6,900, averaging $5,660.

PPO plans with prescription drug coverage 

  • Monthly premiums range from $0 to $59, averaging $3.25; almost all (92%) have no premium.
  • Deductibles range from $0 to $195, averaging $39.07; of plans with deductibles, the average was $152.73.
  • Annual out-of-pocket maximums for in-network services range from $4,400 to $7,400, averaging $6,178.

PPO plans without prescription drug coverage

  • PPO plans without prescription drug coverage have no monthly premiums or deductibles.
  • All five Cigna PPO plans have an annual out-of-pocket maximum of $5,700.

Cigna PDPs range in costs by level of coverage and state. 

  • Rx Secure: Monthly premiums range from $21.60 to $60.70, averaging $31.31
  • Secure-Essential: Monthly premiums for these plans are either $22.10 or $22.20 in every state.
  • Rx Secure-Extra: Monthly premiums range from $46.30 to $74.40, averaging $54.79

Competition: Cigna vs. UnitedHealthcare 

Cigna is a global company with a long history, but compared to the largest health insurer in the U.S., UnitedHealthcare, its Medicare Advantage footprint is relatively small. Cigna offers a range of Medicare plans, including three types of special needs plans. Cigna plans score fairly well on quality ratings from CMS and NCQA, though few plans get top scores.

However, Cigna's out-of-pocket maximums can be higher, which may offset any savings from lower monthly or other out-of-pocket costs. Both companies are large and financially solid, but UnitedHealthcare has a much broader footprint, which may make it the obvious choice depending on where you live. UnitedHealthcare’s partnership with AARP may also offer peace of mind, though the cost and quality of plans vary by area and warrant close scrutiny to make sure you’re getting the best quality plan for the money.

  Cigna UnitedHealthcare
Number of States Available (Medicare Advantage) 18 47
Medicare Plans 6 5
Customer Service Options Telephone, mail, online, or chat. Telephone, online
AM Best Rating A (Excellent) A- (Excellent)
Average CMS Star Rating 3.88 3.87
Verdict

Cigna offers high-quality plans with rich extra benefits and online services, though many program and benefit details require members to log in to their online accounts. Though the company overall has a global footprint, Cigna Medicare Advantage plans are available in only 18 states. It may be a great option in those states, but check the local plan details for specific costs and quality to make sure the options in your area are worth the money.

How We Reviewed Medicare Providers

Even Medicare health plans with a national presence can vary locally in their cost, quality, and customer satisfaction. To evaluate Medicare plans, we looked at health insurance industry ratings from the primary accrediting agency for health plans, NCQA, and the Medicare Star Ratings from CMS, the regulatory agency that oversees Medicare. We included the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ complaint index, and AM Best’s financial stability ratings. We also considered information from the companies on their programs and strategies.

Article Sources

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  5. DentaQuest. "Find a Dentist." Accessed Sept. 5, 2021.

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  7. AM Best. “AM Best Affirms Credit Ratings of Cigna Corp and Most Subs; Upgrades Ratings of Medco Containment and Cigna HealthSpring Subs.” Accessed Sept. 5, 2021.

  8. NCQA. “NCQA Health Insurance Plan Ratings 2019-2020 – Summary Report (Medicare).” Accessed Sept. 5, 2021.

  9. J.D. Power. “Medicare Advantage Plans Struggle to Communicate Effectively with Members, J.D. Power Finds.” Accessed Sept. 5, 2021.

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  12. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Information. "Prescription Drug Coverage—General Information." Download "2021 Plan & Premium Information for Medicare Plans Offering Part D Coverage (v 09 08 20)." Accessed Sept. 5, 2021.