Cigna Medicare Advantage 2021-2022 Review

Cigna offers low-cost Medicare Advantage plans with solid (but not chart-topping) performance ratings.

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Cigna is the seventh-largest provider of Medicare Advantage [1], offering plans in just over half of U.S. states. The insurer also offers stand-alone Medicare drug plans nationwide.

Cigna offers a lot of $0-premium Medicare Advantage plans — at least one in every market the provider serves. Although most of Cigna’s Medicare Advantage members are in highly rated plans, the company’s offerings don’t always get top marks from third-party rating agencies.

Here’s what you should know about Cigna Medicare Advantage.

Cigna Medicare Advantage pros and cons

Cigna’s offerings have advantages and disadvantages.

Pros

  • Member satisfaction: Cigna HealthSpring, a Cigna subsidiary, came in third out of nine Medicare Advantage providers in terms of member satisfaction in J.D. Power’s latest Medicare Advantage study.

  • Low-cost options: More than three-quarters (78.6%) of Cigna’s Medicare Advantage offerings are $0-premium plans.

  • Prescription drug plans widely available: Cigna offers three stand-alone prescription drug plans that are available in all states, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C.

  • Breadth of benefits: Cigna offers a number of helpful member benefits, such as 24/7 telehealth, meal delivery and transportation to and from health facilities.

Cons

  • Limited plan types: Although Cigna does have PPO plans, a majority of the company’s Medicare Advantage plans are HMOs, which require members to get most of their care from in-network providers.

  • Limited availability: Cigna Medicare Advantage plans are available in 26 states and Washington, D.C., only.

  • Third-party ratings: The National Committee for Quality Assurance doesn’t give any Cigna plan a rating higher than 3.5 out of 5 on its ratings scale.

Available Medicare Advantage plans

Cigna offers a few kinds of Medicare Advantage plans, and they vary in terms of structure, costs and benefits. Cigna offers Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug Plans, or MAPDs, as well as stand-alone Prescription Drug Plans and Medicare Advantage Plans without drug coverage.

Plan offerings include the following types:

A health maintenance organization, or HMO, generally requires that you use a specific network of doctors and hospitals. You may need a referral from your primary doctor to see a specialist, and out-of-network benefits are usually limited.

Preferred provider organization, or PPO, plans provide the most freedom, allowing you to see any provider that accepts the insurance. You may not need to choose a primary doctor, and you don’t need referrals to see specialists. You can seek out-of-network care, although it may cost more than seeing an in-network doctor.

Special needs plans, or SNPs, restrict membership to people with certain diseases or characteristics. Hence, the benefits, network and drug formularies are tailored to the needs of those members. Cigna offers three types of SNPs:

  • Chronic Condition SNP: Designed to meet the needs of members living with certain chronic conditions, such as diabetes.

  • Dual-Eligible SNP: For people who are entitled to Medicare and who also qualify for assistance from a state Medicaid program.

  • Institutional SNP: Provides specialized care to members who live in skilled nursing or assisted living facilities and need an institutional level of care.

Available Part D prescription drug plans

While many of Cigna’s Medicare Advantage plans include Part D drug coverage, the company also sells stand-alone Part D prescription drug plans in all 50 states, plus Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. These plans are meant to accompany Medicare Part A and Part B and don't provide medical coverage.

For 2022, Cigna has reduced its range of offerings for prescription drug plans, or PDPs, from six to three. It has consolidated previous years’ Express Scripts branded plans into similar Cigna plans. While fewer plans are available, all of Cigna’s PDPs still have $0-copay options for certain medications if they're purchased through a qualifying mail order.

Cigna’s 2022 Medicare prescription drug plans are as follows:

  • Cigna Secure Rx: Average monthly premium of $34.17; annual prescription drug deductible of $480. Cigna describes this plan as “basic coverage” and a good fit for Medicare beneficiaries receiving financial assistance through Medicare's Extra Help program. The Cigna Secure Rx plan with $0 premium is available to beneficiaries with full low-income subsidies in all markets except California and Puerto Rico.

  • Cigna Essential Rx: Average monthly premium of $35.08; annual prescription drug deductible of $480. Cigna describes this plan as “modest coverage and great value.”

  • Cigna Extra Rx: Average monthly premium of $59.11; annual prescription drug deductible of $100. Cigna describes this plan as “a very high level of coverage” with “low out-of-pocket costs.”

Cigna offers six stand-alone prescription drug plans in 2021, all of which have $0-copay options for certain medications if they’re bought through a qualifying mail order. Cigna’s 2021 plans are as follows:

  • Cigna Secure-Essential Rx: Average monthly premium of $23.76; annual prescription drug deductible of $445.

  • Cigna Secure Rx: Average monthly premium of $31.07; annual prescription drug deductible of $445.

  • Cigna Secure-Extra Rx: Average monthly premium of $49.42; annual prescription drug deductible of $100.

  • Express Scripts Medicare - Saver: Average monthly premium of $26.07; annual prescription drug deductible of $285.

  • Express Scripts Medicare - Value: Average monthly premium of $36.02; annual prescription drug deductible of $445.

  • Express Scripts Medicare - Choice: Average monthly premium of $74.41; annual prescription drug deductible of $100.

Additional benefits

Cigna Medicare Advantage offers many members access to routine vision, dental and hearing coverage. Some plans offer other benefits as well. Here are a few standouts, although their availability varies by plan:

  • 24/7 telehealth: Members with minor medical issues can speak to a medical professional any time of day.

  • Over-the-counter allowance: Some plans include an OTC quarterly allowance that you can use to order items like aspirin, cold medicine and vitamins from Cigna’s OTC catalog. (You can shop online, over the phone or by mail.)

  • Transportation services: Some plans include a certain number of nonemergency, one-way trips to or from health facilities within 60 miles.

  • Silver&Fit Healthy Aging and Exercise Program: Some plans provide a fitness center membership or a home fitness program, depending on your needs.

  • Home-delivered meals: Some plans include the option to have meals delivered to your home after you’ve been discharged from an acute inpatient hospital stay or skilled nursing facility stay.

  • Cigna Case Management: Members with chronic conditions like diabetes or epilepsy can apply to this program; it helps them manage their condition using a team of nurses, pharmacists, health coaches and others.

  • Medication Therapy Management Program: Members with certain conditions who take specific medications can enroll in this program. The program may lower the risk of medication errors and help you make the most of your treatment.

Customer service

Cigna Medicare Advantage members can contact their plan’s customer service in a few ways:

  • Call a customer service representative at 800-997-1654, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. (TTY/TDD dial 711 and follow the prompts.)

  • Chat with a member services representative, Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern time.

  • Contact Cigna through Facebook.

  • Contact Cigna through Twitter.

Cigna Medicare Advantage service area

Cigna offers Medicare Advantage plans in 26 states and Washington, D.C. It offers Medicare prescription drug plans in all 50 states, plus Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. Altogether, Cigna offers Medicare Advantage plans in 477 counties [2].

Overall, Cigna is the fourth-largest health insurer in the country [3]. More than half a million Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in Cigna Medicare Advantage plans [4].

Cost

Costs for Medicare Advantage plans will depend on your plan, your geographic location and your health needs. One of the costs to consider is the plan’s premium, and Cigna offers a $0-premium plan in every market in 2022. In fact, more than three-quarters (78.6%) of Cigna’s Medicare Advantage plans are $0-premium plans [5].

For Medicare Advantage plans with a premium, the monthly consolidated premium (including Part C and Part D) ranges from $19 to $135. For special needs plans with a premium, monthly premiums range from $5.10 to $81 [6].

Even as a Medicare Advantage user, you’ll still be responsible for paying your Medicare Part B premium, which is $148.50 per month in 2021 ($170.10 in 2022), although some plans cover part or all of this cost.

Other out-of-pocket costs to consider include:

  • Whether the plan covers any part of your monthly Medicare Part B premium.

  • The plan’s yearly deductibles and any other deductibles, such as a drug deductible.

  • Copayments and/or coinsurance for each visit or service. For instance, there may be a $10 copay for seeing your primary doctor and a $45 copay for seeing a specialist.

  • The plan’s in-network and out-of-network out-of-pocket maximums.

  • Whether your medical providers are in-network or out-of-network, or how often you may go out of network for care.

  • Whether you require extra benefits, and if the plan charges for them.

To get a sense of costs, use Medicare’s Plan Finder to compare information among available plans in your area. You can select by insurance carrier to see only Cigna plans or compare across carriers. You can also shop directly from Cigna’s website by entering your ZIP code.

Three-quarters (76%) of Cigna’s 2021 Medicare Advantage plans are $0-premium plans, and Cigna offers a $0-premium plan in all of its markets. For 2021 Medicare Advantage plans with a premium, the monthly consolidated premium (including Part C and Part D) ranges from $17.90 to $139. For special needs plans with a premium, monthly premiums range from $7 to $80.

Medicare star ratings

Average star rating: 4.2

If you want Medicare’s take on Cigna’s plans, look no further than the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services's own star ratings, which rank each plan from best (5 stars) to worst (1 star). The agency bases these ratings on plans’ quality of care and measurements of customer satisfaction, and ratings may change from year to year.

Based on the most recent year of data, Cigna’s 2022 Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans get an average rating of 4.2, and the company’s prescription drug plans (Part D) get an average score of 4.0 [7]. The overall average score for Cigna’s plans is 4.2. For comparison, the average star rating for plans from all providers was 4.37 [8]. One Cigna contract gets 5 stars: HealthSpring of Florida.

While a few plans have lower ratings, most of Cigna’s members are in highly rated plans. Of members who are in contracts with a Medicare star rating, 87% are in contracts rated 4.0 or above in 2021 [9].

To get an overall star rating, the CMS ranks contracts on 40 plan factors. (You can find definitions for each of these factors in the CMS Star Ratings Technical Notes.) Here’s where Cigna plans received average scores of 4.5 (out of 5) and above:

  • Health plan: Call center — foreign language interpreter and TTY availability.

  • Diabetes care — kidney disease monitoring.

  • Medicare Plan Finder price accuracy.

  • Care for older adults — pain assessment.

  • Care for older adults — medication review.

  • Plan makes timely decisions about appeals.

  • Reviewing appeals decisions.

  • Medication reconciliation post-discharge.

  • Drug plan: Call center — foreign language interpreter and TTY availability.

  • Complaints about the drug plan.

  • Complaints about the health plan.

  • Colorectal cancer screening.

  • Diabetes care — blood sugar controlled.

  • Osteoporosis management in women who had a fracture.

  • Diabetes care — eye exam.

Cigna contracts averaged a sub-3.0 score in three categories. (You can find definitions for each of these factors in the CMS Star Ratings Technical Notes.)

  • Health plan quality improvement.

  • Reducing the risk of falling.

  • Improving bladder control.

In 2021, Cigna’s Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans get an average rating of 3.8, and the company’s prescription drug plans (Part D) get an average score of 3.7. The overall average score for Cigna’s plans is 3.9. For comparison, the average star rating for plans from all providers was 4.06. One Cigna contract gets 5 stars: HealthSpring of Florida.

You can find a plan’s rating with the Medicare Plan Finder.

Third-party ratings

There are a few companies that weigh in on health plans or on the strength of the company in question, and we’ve included three here:

AM Best is a credit rating agency that specializes in the insurance industry. In March 2021, AM Best affirmed its Financial Strength Rating, or FSR, of A (Excellent) for Cigna Corporation, including its U.S. life/health subsidiaries, health maintenance organizations, and New Zealand- and Europe-based insurance companies. AM Best also affirmed the FSR of A (Excellent) for Cigna HealthSpring Companies [10].

An A rating in this category indicates that AM Best believes Cigna has an excellent ability to meet its ongoing insurance obligations.

In its 2021 Medicare Advantage Study — the seventh it's done so far — J.D. Power measured member satisfaction with Medicare Advantage plans based on six factors: coverage and benefits, provider choice, cost, customer service, information and communication, and billing and payment. On these measures, Cigna HealthSpring, a Cigna subsidiary, scored 822 points out of 1,000 and came in third out of the top nine Medicare Advantage providers [11].

The National Committee for Quality Assurance rates health insurance plans on a 5-point scale (with 5 being best) based on clinical quality, member satisfaction and results from the NCQA's accreditation survey. The ratings highlight the results of care and what patients say about their care.

In its September 2021 ratings of Cigna plans, the NCQA awarded ratings between 2.5 and 3.5 [12]. The two plans that received a 2.5 were Cigna HealthCare of Georgia and HealthSpring of Tennessee (doing business as Cigna HealthSpring of Illinois).

Compare alternatives

See how Medicare Advantage competitors stack up to Cigna.

Compare Medicare Advantage providers

Company

Percent in a 4-star plan or higher

Service area

Average Medicare star rating (2022)

87%.

46 states and Washington, D.C.

3.8.

59%.

44 states.

4.1.

87%.

26 states and Washington, D.C.

4.2.

93%.

50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

4.1.

100%.

8 states and Washington, D.C.

5.

76%.

50 states, Washington, D.C., American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

4.2.

26%.

36 states.

3.6.

About Cigna

Cigna, headquartered in Bloomfield, Connecticut, was created in 1982 when the companies of Connecticut General Corporation, or CG, and the Insurance Company of North America — known as INA — merged. Cigna offers health insurance for individuals and families, dental insurance, Medicare Advantage and Part D plans, Medicare Supplement Insurance, and other insurance coverage such as whole life and cancer treatment insurance. The company also offers insurance for businesses. In 2020, Cigna posted $160 billion in adjusted revenues.

Find the right Medicare Advantage plan

It’s important to do your research before selecting a health plan for yourself. Here are some questions to consider asking:

  • What are the plan’s costs? Do you understand what the plan’s premium, deductibles, copays and/or coinsurance will be? Can you afford them?

  • Is your doctor in-network? If you have a preferred medical provider or providers, make sure they participate in the plan’s network.

  • Are your prescriptions covered? If you’re on medication, it’s crucial to understand how the plan covers it. What tier are your prescription drugs on, and are there any coverage rules that apply to them?

  • Is there dental coverage? Does the plan offer routine coverage for vision, dental and hearing needs?

  • Are there extras? Does the plan offer any extra benefits, such as fitness memberships, transportation benefits or meal delivery?

If you have additional questions about Medicare, visit Medicare.gov or call 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227, TTY 877-486-2048).

ARTICLE SOURCES

  1. Kaiser Family Foundation, “Medicare Advantage in 2021: Enrollment Update and Key Trends,” accessed Nov. 2, 2021.

  2. American Medical Association, “Competition in Health Insurance,” accessed Nov. 2, 2021.

  3. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, “2022 MA Landscape Source Files (v 09 08 21) (ZIP),” accessed Nov. 2, 2021.

  4. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, “2022 SNP Landscape Source Files (v 09 08 21) (ZIP),” accessed Nov. 2, 2021.

  5. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, “2022 Star Ratings Data Table (Oct 06 2021) (ZIP),” accessed Nov. 2, 2021.

  6. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, “2022 Star Ratings Fact Sheet_10_8_2021 (PDF),” accessed Nov. 2, 2021.

  7. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, “Monthly Enrollment by Contract, 2021-10,” accessed Nov. 2, 2021.

  8. NCQA, “Health Plans,” accessed Nov. 2, 2021.

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