Cordani: Cigna's Medicare Advantage enrollment up 11% year over year

Cigna's logo displayed on a smartphone
Cigna released its first-quarter earnings Friday morning. (Piotr Swat/Shutterstock)

Cigna is continuing its growth in the Medicare Advantage space, executives told investors on Friday.

CEO David Cordani said on the company's earnings call Friday morning that enrollment in its MA plans was up 11% year over year in the first quarter. Expansion in MA has been a key strategic focus at Cigna over the past several years.

For the 2021 plan year, the insurer grew its county footprint by 22%, moving into five new states and 67 new counties.

In addition, Cordani said that Cigna is expecting to see its commercial business expand in the coming months, especially as it targets smaller firms through its partnership with Oscar Health. Cordani said that small business are an underserved market for health coverage.

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"This reinforces the critical role our U.S. healthcare business plays as an important partner to employers in providing access to quality, affordable care for the benefit of their employees," he said.

Cordani added that Cigna is also seeing growth in its individual and family plans as a result of its expansion strategy. Enrollment in such coverage is up 17% year over year, Cordani said.

Cigna reported $1.2 billion in profit for the first quarter of 2021, on par with the prior-year quarter and surpassing Wall Street analysts' projections.

Cigna also beat the Street on revenue for the quarter, according to Zacks Investment Research, posting $41 billion. That's also an increase over the first quarter of 2020, where Cigna reported $38.5 billion.

"Cigna remains dedicated to supporting our customers, clients, and communities through the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, while also delivering strong financial results, as demonstrated through our first quarter performance," said Cordani in a statement.

"As we continue to execute against our three-pronged growth framework—delivering differentiated value, partnering and innovating, and expanding our addressable markets—we are well-positioned to meet the most pressing needs of those we serve as we make health care more affordable, predictable, and simple, even in a dynamic environment."

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The company's Evernorth subsidiary, which includes Express Scripts and a number of other business arms, accounted for the lion's share of revenue in the quarter, bringing in $30.6 billion. That's up from $26.7 billion in the prior-year quarter.

Cigna said Express Scripts filled 393 million pharmacy scripts in the first quarter, an increase of 9% compared to the first quarter of 2020.

Revenues for its health plan were $10.4 billion, up 5% year over year. 

Cigna boasted 101 million pharmacy benefit members through Evernorth's Express Scripts and 16.7 million medical members. Medical plan membership did decline compared to the first quarter of 2020, where the insurer had 17.2 million members.

Cigna did add 30,000 members in the quarter, though, which it says reflects growth in its individual market business and Medicare Advantage. Express Scripts has added 2.2 million members so far this year, according to the report.

Due to the financial performance, Cigna raised its outlook for the year and now projects at least $166 billion in total revenue and at least $20.20 in earnings per share.