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Life Health > Health Insurance > Health Insurance

Cigna exchange plans 'not a profit driver'

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The individual commercial health customers that Cigna Corp. has been getting through the public exchange system have been a little older than the company expected.

David Cordani, the chief executive officer at Cigna (NYSE:CI), talked about the start of the public exchange system briefly during a conference call with analysts.

Cigna held the call to review fourth-quarter earnings.

Cigna is reporting $360 million in net income for the quarter on $8.1 billion in revenue, compared with $407 million in net income on $7.6 billion in revenue for the fourth quarter of 2012.

The company ended the quarter providing or administering health coverage for 14 million people, about as many people as it was covering a year earlier.

Most of the enrollees are in large or midsize U.S. employer groups, but the company also sells health coverage in other countries, and it has some enrollees in Medicare Advantage plans and in expatriate plans designed for U.S. workers who work outside the United States.

The company ended 2013 with 237,000 holders of individual coverage, up from 196,000 a year earlier.

Cordani said high medical costs hurt Medicare Advantage program earnings.

He also took pains to emphasize that Cigna wants to be a global player, and that the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and the start of the PPACA exchange system are just two of the dramatic changes affecting its business.

Other sources of disruption include an aging population, concerns about health care affordability throughout the world, changes in the U.S. Medicare provider reimbursement system, and efforts throughout the world to overhaul public and private health care funding systems, Cordani said.

Cordani said Cigna sells exchange plans in just five states, and only in certain markets within those states.

Although the Cigna exchange plan business is small, about half of the Cigna individual commercial coverage that started Jan. 1 came in through the exchange plans, Cordani said.

About 75 percent of the “qualified health plan” (QHP) buyers were eligible for PPACA subsidies, Cordani added.

The QHP business “is not a profit driver or a moneymaker for us in 2014 at this point,” Cordani said.

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