February 06, 2014

Health insurer Cigna has announced the launch of a private retail exchange that will benefit employers and employees in benefits selection, enrollment and administration.

In developing its new exchange, Cigna aimed to create a user-friendly solution that would simplify the benefits process for its members. Employers receive administrative assistance and improved guidance in selecting which products should go on the shelf. In addition to the option of online enrollment, employees benefit from 24/7 customer service and help in deciding which benefits are best for them.

The private exchange also provides Cigna brokers with a turnkey offering. This provides them with a set shelf of products and assistance with handling ongoing changes in employee population, which would otherwise be done manually.

“Beyond online enrollment and administrative help, we felt that decision-making capabilities were important,” said Nancy Vasta, product direct for Cigna Private Exchange. “We really leveraged the existing technology that we have at Cigna, and within the industry, to meet the needs of employers and consumers.”

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Vasta says that in the smaller business segment, consumers typically don’t have many choices and may be unprepared for its new private exchange. “While more choice is good, it can also be overwhelming to a customer,” she says.

The private exchange contains an online guidance tool that requires customers to answer a series of questions related to topics such as their network preference and health status of household members. The tool uses their answers to project utilization in the household and calculate both premium and out-of-pocket costs. Consumers can also receive advice on financial protection products like life and disability insurance.

Cigna is currently focusing on the customer experience and integrating more offerings to expand its product suite. “We see the space as evolving rapidly and customer needs always changing,” says Vasta. Future additions include accident insurance (AI) and critical illness (CI) insurance. Cigna is also pursuing opportunities to embed claims history into its decision-making tool so as to make more sophisticated benefit recommendations.

The exchange is currently available to smaller employers in Dallas, Atlanta, San Francisco and the Washington, D.C. metro area. It will expand to larger employers in more markets throughout 2014.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kelly is an associate editor for Insurance & Technology. Prior to joining InformationWeek Financial Services, she was a staff writer for InformationWeek and InformationWeek Education. Kelly has also written for trade ...