Cigna Corporation ( CI Quick Quote CI - Free Report) recently extended cost-effective Medicare Advantage (“MA”) plans and forayed for the first time into new counties of Central Florida — Sarasota and Marion. CI boasts a well-established presence across Florida and continues to offer MA plans across 14 counties of Central Florida. For items not covered by Original Medicare, Cigna provides Medicare Supplement plans and standalone prescription drug plans in Florida.
The recent move is expected to lead to better health outcomes for Cigna’s eligible MA customers in 2022 across the two newly covered counties of Florida, as they will have easy access to high-quality MA plans best suited to their diversified health needs.
Concurrent with the latest MA footprint expansion, Cigna extended ties with HCA Healthcare in Central Florida and the Treasure Coast. Consequently, the MA customers of Cigna in these markets will be able to utilize the extensive medical facilities, primary care physicians and specialists of HCA. Such strengthening of ties reflects CI’s efforts to include reliable providers within its thriving MA network and offer increased provider choices to customers.
The twin announcements also underscore Cigna’s efforts to bolster presence in not only Central Florida but also across the Treasure Coast, wherein the company provides MA plans in three of its counties. Equipped with enhanced health plans, this Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) global health services company continues to foray into every corner of the United States. In November 2021, CI introduced a number of MA plans to bolster the company’s MA footprint in Connecticut.
Efforts to Capitalize on a Rapidly Growing MA Market
The MA market seems to be an attractive one for Cigna, considering a growing U.S. aging population and surge in enrollment figures. MA plans remain the preferred choice for customers owing to several bundled benefits, improved care coordination and affordable nature, which make them a better option when compared to the traditional Medicare plans. Added benefits included in the MA plans can range from vision, hearing to even dental ones.
The latest move will provide a boost to the MA customer base of Cigna as a result of which the healthcare provider’s MA business will continue to expand. Since 2019, the geographic presence of CI’s MA business has been boosted by 80%. The business has been performing well on the back of continuous product expansions, rising membership, and new collaborations or contract extensions with renowned healthcare systems. As of Sep 30, 2021, a well-performing MA business contributed to the medical customer growth of Cigna.
Cigna remains on track to achieve MA customer growth in the targeted range of 10-15% this year. Growth in customer base will continue to fetch higher premiums in the MA business for the healthcare provider, which rose 10.7% in the first nine months of 2021 from the prior-year comparable period. Premium growth, in turn, will contribute to the top-line growth of CI.
Similar to Cigna, other players in the medical space such as
Humana Inc. ( HUM Quick Quote HUM - Free Report) , Centene Corporation ( CNC Quick Quote CNC - Free Report) and UnitedHealth Group Incorporated ( UNH Quick Quote UNH - Free Report) also boast of a solid MA business that caters to the healthcare needs of people.
The MA business of Humana continues to ride on uptick in membership and new collaborations or contract extensions with renowned healthcare systems. This has been bolstering the partner networks and U.S. footprint of HUM. As of Sep 30, 2021, individual MA improved 11.7% from the prior-year comparable period. For 2021, Humana forecasts individual MA membership to witness an 11% year-over-year growth.
Centene serves more than 1.1 million MA members across 33 states. Several contract wins and renewals have resulted in higher membership growth in the MA business. Medicare membership of CNC climbed 30.9% year over year as of Sep 30, 2021. For 2022, Centene has plans to foray into 327 new counties and three new states of Massachusetts, Nebraska and Oklahoma through enhanced MA offerings.
UnitedHealth Group remains poised to benefit from a strong MA business. The business has been benefiting on the back of several business wins and a solid membership growth in MA business amid the annual enrollment period. As of Sep 30, 2021, the number of individuals served through UNH’s MA business grew 14% from the year-ago comparable period. UnitedHealth Group will broaden its service area to cater to 94% of Medicare consumers nationwide in 2022.
Shares of Cigna have lost 8.6% over a year against the
industry’s rally of 23.7%. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here. Image Source: Zacks Investment Research
Shares of Humana, Centene and UnitedHealth Group have gained 4.4%, 10.1% and 29.1%, respectively, in a year.
(We are reissuing this article to correct a mistake. The original article, issued on December 02, 2021, should no longer be relied upon.)