Cigna will be deploying a strategy of hiding certain health plans from consumers and cutting commissions paid to agents on individual and family plans in 2015. Gold and Platinum plans from Cigna will not be available for online quoting or enrollment. Cigna will also be cutting the commission on those plans from 5% to 2% for agents in California.
Cigna cuts commissions in 2014
The 2% commission is actually a restoration from a zero percentage commission structure imposed during the summer. From a Cigna agent news update –
Regarding Cigna’s Gold and Platinum plans, please be advised that for new Individual and Family Plan cases with effective dates from September 1, 2014 to December 15, 2014, Cigna will not pay commissions on the medical portion of those plans. This applies to both on-exchange business as well as off-exchange business. We will continue to pay commissions as usual on the dental portion of these sales. Note: there is no change to the commission level for Bronze and Silver plans or to any of your existing medical plans written prior to 9/1/14.
Cigna moves to squash enrollment
There was no public acknowledgement as to why Cigna wanted to squash the sales of their zero deductible Gold and Platinum plans. The reduction of the commission to zero only served to irritate agents who may have also decreased marketing the Cigna Silver and Bronze plans as well. An honest and ethical agent will have to enroll a client in a health plan even if by carrier fiat they are forbidden from making any money from the sale.
Hiding health plans
In a continued effort to dissuade individuals and families from enrolling in their 2015 Gold and Platinum plans, those California health plans will not be shown within their online quoting results. Rates and enrollment will only be obtainable from an agent or Cigna directly. (This is as of November 11, 2014). Commissions to agents will be partially restored on these plans from 0% to 2%. It’s almost counter-intuitive that you would pay a smaller commission to an agent for the increased work of manually quoting and filling out an enrollment application. But that is what Cigna has chosen to do.
Are Cigna health plans inferior?
But Cigna must have serious reasons to discourage consumers from enrolling in their California Gold and Platinum plans. With a better than average IFP PPO provider network of doctors and hospitals, Cigna can’t be protecting upper income residents in the Bay Area and Southern California from an inferior product, because the health plans are pretty good. If the Gold and Platinum plans are losing money, just raise the rates, they would be justified. If Cigna was trying to reduce their losses by cutting the commissions to agents, that is a less than honorable method of accomplishing cost containment.
Cost shifting to agents
From experience, I’ve learned to expect nothing less from the health insurance companies. They will always shift the cost to the individual who has the least amount of power to defend themselves. In this case it’s the agents who are the soft target and take the hit. I wonder if their CEO took a voluntary pay reduction to help out the bottom line like Cigna has asked agents to do?
Review and download Cigna’s California health plans for 2015 on my Cigna ACA Plan page, which aren’t bad at all. But if you want a quote on the Cigna Gold or Platinum plans, you’ll have to call me so I can call Cigna, so they can give me the rates and I can call you back. Is this really the internet age of 2014?