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Cigna CEO: ACA marketplace needs to offer flexibility to insurers

David Cordani says company didn't expect to be profitable on the exchanges in the short term

Though Cigna recently said it is committed to offering plans on the Affordable Care Act exchanges for 2016, CEO David Cordani told Kaiser Health News in a recent interview that aspects of the marketplace should be fixed to provide more flexibility for health plans.

UnitedHealth, citing a "continuing deterioration" in individual exchange product performance, announced in late November that it may be pulling back from the ACA marketplace in 2017. Though Cigna is facing similar struggles, the company is looking at its financial goals on the exchanges in the long term, Cordani said.

"We viewed 2014, 2015 and 2016 as Version 1.0 of that market and that it would take those three years for the market to shake itself out," Cordani (right) told KHN. "We said from day one we didn't expect to make money on it. We didn't make money on it in 2014 and we aren't making money on it in 2015."

Even though Cigna has not yet committed to staying in the exchanges in 2017, Cordani remains optimistic because there are many ways in which the marketplace can improve. For instance, if insurers are allowed more flexibility in benefit and network configuration, they can design products that are better tailored to individuals who currently don't buy insurance, Cordani told KHN. He also called for a "more compressed, focused open enrollment period."

Cordani also spoke to KHN about Cigna and Anthem's impending merger, which was the largest ever among U.S. health insurers following a deal between Aetna and Humana. Cordani said that the merger was a logical choice, since both companies are complementary, and the deal will allow them to bring population health and management programs to their employer products and help expand their overall geographic footprint.

To learn more:
- read the Kaiser Health News article

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UnitedHealth's exchange exit threat: What it means
Aetna's Mark Bertolini, Cigna's David Cordani weigh in on mergers, drug costs
Cigna CEO Cordani: Time to shift focus away from 'sick' care to 'health' care