By: Bill Hethcock
Dallas Business Journal
PLANO- With dozens of choices for health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act marketplaces set to open Oct. 1, how does an insurance provider differentiate its plans from all the others?
Service, cost and value, says LaMonte Thomas, president of Plano-based Cigna Healthcare of North Texas. I caught up with Thomas via email to get his thoughts about the recent the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report that Texas consumers will be able to choose from an average of 53 health plans.
“We surveyed individual policy holders here in Texas and in other markets, and what we found is that consumers are looking for simplicity and service based on cost, value and strong support that helps them make informed choices about their care and the doctors that they choose,” Thomas’s email said.
Cigna’s health insurance plans offered on the online marketplace will come with a round-the-clock, 365-day per year customer service line and a 24-hour nurse line to answer customers’ and patients’ questions about coverage or their health. It will offer exchange shoppers the same online tools that employees of a Texas-based Fortune 100 company can access, including online cost and quality transparency tools that help customers find the best care at the best price, Thomas continued.
It will also offer an “adequate” network of health care providers from which to choose, Thomas said. The plans are designed to align participants with a quality, local primary care physician to quarterback their health care.
Cigna’s exchange network will be narrower than what’s available in large group plans, but not as narrow as many competitors’ plans, Thomas said.
”What we offer isn’t a stripped down jalopy that’s cheap,” his email said. “We offer a good, solid reliable Chevy, Dodge or Ford truck. It’s very important to offer adequate network size or else individuals won’t have access to the high quality care they’re expecting.”
Statewide, consumers will be able to choose from an average of 53 health plans, and rates in Texas are lower than in all but 14 states.