Cigna enters private insurance exchange arena

By BenefitsPro

By Dan Cook

Studies are showing that health insurance consumers are gradually educating themselves about their coverage rather than expecting someone else, like their employer, to make most of the choices for them.

At the same time, employers are becoming more strategic about their choice of plans to offer to workers. As a result, more insurance providers are jumping into the private exchange market to take advantage of these new retail customers.

The latest: Cigna, the global insurance services vendor.

Cigna’s approach is a cautious one. It’s kicking off its exchange with products available only to smaller businesses and their employees in Atlanta, Dallas, the Washington, D.C. metro area and San Francisco. It said it plans to expand the exchange during the year, presumably as it gathers information about the exchange’s appeal to customers.

“Cigna’s goal is to offer a full range of plan choices to employers, and employees and their families as they become more actively involved in their health and benefit choices,” said Dave Guilmette, president of the global employer segment for Cigna.

The exchange will offer a toolbox of products to employees to help them choose the package they prefer.

“For employers, the exchange offers a benefits administration platform that allows them to provide their employees with a broader choice of plan options, while simplifying employers’ administrative responsibilities and controlling benefit costs,” Cigna said in a news release.

Cigna noted that it already participates in various private exchanges “administered by benefit consultants and brokerage firms that target active employees (including fully insured and self-insured models), and retirees. The private exchange ‘marketplace’ expands Cigna's portfolio of cost-competitive solutions for employers and their employees and retirees.”

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