Cigna opts out of Connecticut insurance exchange


Even though most of the major insurers have said they will participate in Connecticut's state-run health insurance exchange, Cigna decided not to sell health plans in the new marketplace.

Five health insurers--Aetna, Anthem, Connecticare, UnitedHealthcare and HealthyCT--have told the state that they will provide insurance plans through the exchange, known as Access Health CT, reported the Hartford Business Journal.

But Cigna, whose headquarters are in Connecticut, where it has a substantial market share, has chosen not to compete for the roughly 200,000 individuals who likely will shop for coverage through the online marketplace.

After analyzing the exchanges and meeting with Connecticut exchange officials to understand their approach to building the state-based marketplace, Cigna determined that despite its "strong offering in Connecticut," it can't "meet the needs of the Connecticut exchange customer at the level we believe is required and consistent with our mission of improving health, well-being and a sense of security of the people we serve," Cigna Spokesperson Joe Mondy told FierceHealthPayer.

Despite the decision, Cigna hasn't completely ruled out participating in Connecticut's exchange in the future. But since the marketplace has a two-year lockout for insurers that don't participate when it opens, Cigna can't reverse its decision until at least 2016.

That two-year lock out rule was established by the exchange board to create an incentive for insurers to begin offering coverage within the exchange right away. The idea is to reward insurers willing to take a risk by offering plans in a new marketplace, and to prevent new competition from coming in right away only after they have seen success.

"The Exchange would like as many carriers as possible to participate in order to offer residents a broad array of plan options, as well as spur competition in this new marketplace," Jason Madrak, a spokesman for Access Health CT, told the Business Journal. "We hope that as the Exchange launches and we begin to see it operating successfully, carriers who are not currently participating will reassess their approach and decide to join us."

"We will reassess this decision after we learn more about operating in exchange markets," Mondy said.

Meanwhile, Cigna is still considering participating in other states' exchanges, and CEO David Cordani has maintained that the insurer does intend to sell policies through exchanges.

"We do plan to participate in public exchanges in a select number of markets, but haven't announced which states yet," Mondy told FierceHealthPayer. "We expect to enter a select number of markets where our offerings will best meet the needs of the customer."

To learn more:
- read the Hartford Business Journal article

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