Cigna Corp. CI is expanding its Medicare Advantage (MA) plans across 17 states and 80 counties in the Medicare Annual Election Period (AEP), which will begin on Oct 15 and continue through Dec 7. Health benefit plans purchased during AEP are effective Jan 1, 2020.
Cigna MA plans also include supplemental benefits like vision and dental and access to fitness centers and services at no additional cost. For the first time, all Cigna Medicare customers will have access to doctors via telephone, computer, tablet or smart phone for some routine care.
Cigna MA business is well positioned for growth driven by expansion into new geographies, leading pharmacy capabilities and product launches.
Cigna projects 10-15% target for MA average annual customer growth. This growth should be driven by– individual HMO in existing markets, individual PPO in existing markets, and individual HMO/PPO in new markets.
The MA enrollment is expected to grow from 46 million 2019 to 72 million in 2025. MA has become the most attractive business for health insurers after the recent policy changes for Medicare Advantage and Part D programs by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). These policy changes include opportunities to offer broadened supplemental benefits packages and expanded telehealth services.
Supplemental benefits may include meal delivery, transportation for non-medical needs, pest control, indoor air quality equipment and services, benefits to address social needs, and structural improvements such as ramps or the widening of hallways.
In tandem with this, insurers are offering various benefits suited to the medical condition of the customers. These benefits are expected to increase competition between MA plan offerings.
Recently, many insurers have announced expansion of MA offerings for 2020. Humana Inc. HUM announced health plan choices for Medicare beneficiaries in New Jersey by more than doubling the number of counties to 13, in which Humana Medicare Advantage plans are offered . UnitedHealth Group Inc. UNH is also expanding its Medicare Advantage health plan offerings to seniors in 100 new counties in 2020. Centene Corp. CNC and Anthem have also made similar announcements.
Year to date, Cigna’s stock is down 21.4% compared with the industry’s growth of 3.4%. This pull back in the share price makes the valuation attractive. The stock is trading at 12-month forward price-to-earnings ratio of 8.3 compared with the industry average of 8.7. For the current year, the company’s earnings are expected to grow at 17.9% compared with the industry’s growth of 13.3%.
Also, Cigna carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy), with a Value Style Score of A. Our research shows that stocks with a Value Style Score of A or B when combined with a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) or 2 offer the best opportunities in the value investing space.You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.
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