Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Health insurer Cigna to sell certain businesses for $3.7 billion

Insurance giant Cigna, headquartered in Bloomfield, Connecticut, is selling its Medicare businesses.   (Brad Horrigan/Hartford Courant/TNS)
By Kenneth R. Gosselin Hartford Courant

Cigna Group said Wednesday it has agreed to sell certain businesses for about $3.7 billion, as the heath care giant pushes forward with a goal of building its other units, including its huge pharmacy-benefits manager, Express Scripts.

Cigna agreed to sell its Medicare Advantage, Cigna Supplemental Benefits, Medicare Part D and CareAllies businesses to Chicago-based Health Care Services Corp. HCSC is the parent of Blue Cross Blue Shield plans in five states: Illinois, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

The majority of Cigna employees assigned to the Medicare businesses are located outside of Connecticut and are expected to retain their jobs, if the deal is approved by regulators. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2025.

The definitive agreement also provides that Cigna will retain a foothold in the Medicare business in the near future. Cigna’s Evernorth Health Services, which includes Express Scripts, will continue to provide pharmacy benefit services to the Medicare businesses for four years, beginning at the closing of the transaction.

Cigna had about 600,000 members enrolled in Medicare Advantage. The health insurer had approximately 450,000 in supplement plans, which beneficiaries purchase to fill gaps in the traditional government Medicare coverage, and 2.5 million with Medicare Part D drug plans.

The $3.7 billion transaction value includes a purchase price of $3.3 billion, plus $400 million in financial reserves that can be deployed now that the businesses are being sold.

On Wednesday, Cigna shares were valued at $302.19, up $3.31, or 1.1% in late morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Medicare businesses, particularly Medicare Advantage, have been seen as a lucrative business for health insurers.

Medicare Advantage plans are sold by private companies who contract with the federal government to provide Medicare benefits and typically, extra coverage for vision, hearing, dental and preventative wellness programs.

But Medicare plans also have come under increasing profitability pressure for insurers with increased use by members.

“While we continue to believe the overall Medicare space is an attractive segment of the health care market, our Medicare businesses require sustained investment, focus and dedicated resources disproportionate to the size within The Cigna Group’s portfolio,” Cigna Group chairman and chief executive David Cordani said, in a statement.

“We continue to see significant, meaningful growth opportunities for government services, including Medicare, in our Evernorth Health Services portfolio of businesses.” Cordani said.

If the deal wins approvals, Cigna said it will use proceeds from the transaction for its strategic priorities, with the majority used for share repurchases.

Public companies typically repurchase their own shares to demonstrate confidence in the company’s prospects.

Late last year, Cigna, according to published reports, abandoned an acquisition of rival Humana, based in Louisville, KY. In an announcement following reports that the merger talks had broken off, Cigna did not confirm the talks, but said it would concentrate on smaller, “bolt on” acquisitions.