Cigna to expand ACA exchange footprint to 3 new states, 93 counties

Cigna is planning to expand its footprint on the Affordable Care Act's (ACA's) exchanges into three new states and 93 new counties for the 2022 plan year, the insurer announced Thursday.

Cigna said it plans to enter the markets in Pennsylvania, Georgia and Mississippi and new counties in Florida, Arizona and Virginia. The new regions could reach an additional 1.5 million customers, according to the announcement.

The new markets will bring the insurer's total footprint to 313 counties across 13 states. The expansion plans are pending regulatory approval.

Lisa Lough, president of Cigna's individual and family plans business, told Fierce Healthcare that the company takes a "thoughtful and deliberate approach" to planning an expansion like this, identifying markets where it can most effectively serve customers.

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"A lot of it really depends on what kind of relationships and network we can build," Lough said.

Despite a rocky start, recent stability on the ACA exchanges has encouraged a number of insurers to grow their reach or reenter the marketplaces. UnitedHealthcare, the largest insurer in the U.S., has grown its footprint of late, and Aetna has filed to enter the marketplaces after exiting in full in 2018 following massive losses.

Lough said Cigna has remained on the exchanges since their launch and has at times served as the sole plan option in a number of communities. Standing out in what's now a growing market includes offering unique plans, such as condition-specific coverage, which provides $0 cost-share on benefits to manage chronic conditions like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and diabetes.

Members can also access $0 virtual wellness visits through MDLive as well as the Patient Assurance Program, which caps insulin costs at $25 for a 30-day supply.

Even as competition on the exchanges begins to heat up, she said Cigna has set the individual market as a key growth target moving forward.

"We’re very focused on how we can bring these solutions to more and more people across the country," Lough said.

Open enrollment on the ACA exchanges begins Nov. 1.