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Oct 29, 2019
Choosing a Health Insurance Plan? Here’s What You Need to Know

If you are buying your insurance on a health care exchange, sorting through the options can be overwhelming. To help with that process, it’s important that you take the time to assess what you truly need – and want – in a plan.

In a recent national survey [PDF], Cigna asked 1,250 people about their health care experiences and the factors that can be barriers to care. The survey found that consumers are seeking affordability, simplicity and predictability in their health care, but that their realities haven’t always measured up.

Nearly 71% of people surveyed admitting to avoiding or delaying a doctor’s visit. Why? The top responses were high costs (43%), lack of time (41%), lack of health insurance (34%), inconvenient office hours (31%), long wait times (24%), and transportation difficulties (21%).


Let’s address costs first. When it comes to preventive care, most insurance plans provide coverage for in-network basic preventive care services, such as your annual check-up at no additional cost. For other types of care – such as when a family member is ill or has a chronic condition – look for plans that offer quality care providers in your local area, as well as other low or no-cost benefits such as prescription discounts and health coaching. And 4 out of 5 consumers who buy their own insurance on the exchange qualify for federal premium subsidies to lower their monthly premium cost [PDF] so be sure to also find out if you’re eligible for federal subsidies or tax credits.1


The next step is to look for a health plan that addresses the issue of convenience in accessing care, such as through a 24-hour health support line or through virtual care (telehealth) appointments, at no additional cost. These services can help maintain health and wellness beyond the basic preventive care screenings.

Eighty-seven percent of respondents said that health insurance plans should make it easy for consumers to talk to a doctor or nurse 24/7, and 81% are more likely to consider a health plan that provides around-the-clock support.

  • 70% of all respondents said they would be willing to try a telehealth service in which they could talk to a doctor over the phone or computer without having to visit an office
  • And 80% of parents with children under 18 would be willing to try such a service


Predictability is connected to both cost and convenience. A majority of respondents (90%) said that providing drug costs and where to get the best prices would be a real benefit, and nearly half (49%) would be interested in a plan that helps them identify out-of-pocket costs.

While individual consumer needs vary, consumers need a plan that can deliver on its promises, that partners with plenty of top-notch community providers, and that has a track record of affordability, customer service and follow-through. Additionally, check to see if the plan you are choosing offers an online tool that allows you to estimate your costs by procedure and by health care provider – so you can make smart choices and know what to expect.

Caring for the health and well-being of our customers who purchase their health plan on the individual health care exchange is a responsibility that Cigna takes seriously, said Lisa Lough, general manager of Cigna’s individual and family plans business. We partner closely and collaboratively with physicians across the country to determine what our communities need – and then provide the best services and support possible to meet those unique, local needs.


1 Early 2018 Effectuated Enrollment Snapshot, July 2, 2018.
https://www.cms.gov/CCIIO/programs-and-initiatives/health-insurance-marketplaces/downloads/2018-07-02-trends-report-1.pdf [PDF]

All Cigna products and services are provided exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation, including Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, Cigna HealthCare of Arizona, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of Illinois, Inc., and Cigna HealthCare of North Carolina, Inc. Plans contain exclusions and limitations and are not available in all areas. For costs and details of coverage, review your plan documents.