Reports Cigna may be looking to divest its group benefits business comes as rivals are spending billions of dollars to expand their medical care provider operations.
Cigna last year bought the pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts in a deal that expanded the insurer’s health benefits operations, offering employers and government clients a package of medical and pharmacy coverage options. But that deal did little to bolster Cigna’s partnerships with providers of medical care that are increasingly falling under the umbrella of large health insurance companies.
Reuters Tuesday reported Cigna has hired an investment bank to shop the group benefits business, saying it could be valued at up to $6 billion. Cigna’s group benefits operations includes life insurance and disability benefits, which are businesses other big health insurance companies have already unloaded in recent years.
Cigna wouldn’t comment on the Reuters report in a statement Tuesday but said its executives are constantly reviewing “opportunities” in the market. “Given the dynamic marketplace, we continually review opportunities to ensure we continue to deliver value to our customers and clients,” a Cigna spokeswoman said.
Increasingly, health insurance companies are forming closer ties with medical care providers with UnitedHealth Group’s Optum health services business gobbling up doctor practices and urgent care centers across the country. And last year, CVS Health bought the health insurer Aetna, which sold its life insurance and disability operations in 2017.
Meanwhile, Humana in the last two years has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on homecare business and building its outpatient care operations. Anthem, the nation’s second-largest health insurer, has been buying some medical care providers, particularly those that treat Medicare patients in an effort to boost enrollment in its Medicare Advantage plans.