Aetna vs. Cigna: An In-Depth Comparison

Alex Enabnit
Licensed Insurance Agent and Medicare Expert Writer
December 12, 2019
Aetna
S&P Ranking
A-
RX Plans
None*
Cigna
S&P Ranking
A
RX Plans
Nationwide

*Aetna no longer sells Part D prescription drug plans under its own names. It does, however, sell SilverScript plans. Stay tuned for our review of  Silverscript. When we publish that, we’ll add a link here.

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You have a lot of options when it comes to choosing a Medicare plan. Although a range of choices can help ensure you find a plan that works for your needs, it can also make choosing a plan challenging. Our comparison of  plans from two popular companies, Aetna and Cigna, can help you weigh various benefits. We’ll start with a 30,000 foot view of what both companies have to offer.

Availability
Aetna
Cigna

Access to provider networks

1.2 million health care professionals (globally)1

1.5 million health care professionals (globally)2

Medicare Advantage

44 states and DC3

26 states and DC4

Medicare Supplement

44 states5

43 states and DC6

Prescription Drug Plans

None7

Nationwide8

Plans offered
Aetna
Cigna

Medicare Advantage

HMO, PPO, SNP, HMO-POS*9

HMO, PPO, SNP, HMO-POS*10

Medicare Supplement

A, B, F, high deductible F, G, & N*11

A, F, high deductible F, G, & N*12

Prescription Drug Plans

None13

3 plans14

Rankings
Aetna
Cigna
Standard & Poor's (S&P)A-15A16
Medicare Advantage4.09/5 (Avg. Medicare Star Rating)174.7/5 (Avg. Medicare Star Rating)18
Medicare Part DN/A 193.5/5 (Avg. Medicare Star Rating)20

Data effective 12/12/2019.
*Subject to vary by state.

Provider network access

Because Original Medicare and Medicare Supplement (or Medigap) plans allow you to see any doctor who accepts Medicare, provider networks don’t apply to those plans.

But with Medicare Advantage, plans often have rules for which doctors and providers you can see. If you go with Aetna, you get access to the company’s approximately 1.2 million health care providers worldwide. But Cigna has an even larger provider network, with 1.5 million health care providers across the globe.

Availability by location

You can purchase a Part D prescription drug plan (PDP) from Cigna no matter which state you live in. Aetna no longer sells its own prescription drug plans.

Aetna sells Medicare Advantage plans in 44 states and DC. Contrast this with Cigna, which sells Medicare Advantage plans in only 15 states and DC.

Nearly every state can get a Cigna or Aetna Medigap plan but, between the two, only Cigna offers Medigap coverage in DC.

Comparing the plans offered

Both Aetna and Cigna offer Medicare Advantage plans and primarily sell HMO or PPO plans. Both companies also offer HMO SNPs (Special Needs Plans) or HMO-POS (Point of Service) plans in select states.

Plan Type
Aetna21
Cigna22

HMO

Aetna Medicare Value Plan

Cigna-HealthSpring Preferred

HMO

Aetna Medicare Platinum Plan

Cigna-HealthSpring PreventiveCare

PPO

Aetna Medicare Premier Plan

Cigna-HealthSpring Preferred

HMO SNP

Aetna Medicare Dual Complete

Cigna-HealthSpring Preferred HMO

Data effective 12/12/2019.
*Subject to vary by state.

If you are considering purchasing a Medicare Advantage plan, we recommend looking at how Cigna compares to other providers, such as Blue Cross Blue Shield or United Healthcare.

Medigap
Aetna23
Cigna24

Plan A

Yes

Yes

Plan B

Yes

No

Plan C

No

No

Plan D

No

No

Plan F

Yes

Yes

Plan G

Yes

Yes

Plan K

No

No

Plan L

No

No

Plan M

No

No

Plan N

Yes

Yes

High-deductible F

Yes

Yes

Data effective 12/12/2019.
*Subject to vary by state.

Each Medicare Supplement plan helps pay for a different portion of costs not covered by Original Medicare. The chart below details the coverage of each of these plans, so look it over to find out which benefits each Medigap plan includes. Remember that not all Medicare Supplement plans are available in all areas. You can also visit our Medigap plan comparison guide for more details.

Medicare Supplement Plan Benefits
A
B
C
D
F
G
K
L
M
N
Part A coinsurance/hospital costsYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Part B coinsurance/copaymentYesYesYesYesYesYes50%75%YesYes
Blood (first 3 pints)YesYesYesYesYesYes50%75%YesYes
Part A hospice care coinsuranceYesYesYesYesYesYes50%75%YesYes
Skilled nursing facility care coinsuranceNoNoYesYesYesYes50%75%YesYes
Part A deductibleNoYesYesYesYesYes50%75%50%Yes
Part B deductibleNoNoYesNoYesNoNoNoNoNo
Part B excess chargeNoNoNoNoYesYesNoNoNoNo
Foreign travel coverageNoNo80%80%80%80%NoNo80%80%
Out-of-pocket limitNoNoNoNoNoNo$5,560$2,780NoNo
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Comparing financial rankings

One way to measure an insurance company’s strength is by looking at its financial ratings. Certain organizations, like Standard & Poor’s (S&P), review these companies’ financial data to make predictions on how stable they are—in essence, how likely it is that they will be able to continue paying claims for the foreseeable future.

Aetna
Cigna

Standard & Poor's (S&P)

A-

A

Aetna is rated A- by Standard & Poor’s for financial strength, while Cigna is rated at an A. According to S&P, the “A” category means the company has “strong financial security characteristics but is somewhat more likely to be affected by adverse business conditions than are insurers with higher ratings.”25 The minus (-) added to Aetna's grade simply means it's at the lower end of the rating.

To summarize, Cigna is in slightly better financial standing than Aetna according to Standard and Poor’s, but not by very much.

Final thoughts

If you’re looking for a comprehensive Advantage plan, prescription drug coverage, or Medigap plans, both Aetna or Cigna may have plenty of options, depending on where you live.

Are you ready to compare quotes from Cigna and Aetna to see what will work best for you? Call the number below for help.

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Sources
1. Aetna, “Aetna Facts
2. Cigna, “A Global Approach
3. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, “2020 Medicare Advantage Landscape
4. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, “2020 Medicare Advantage Landscape
5. Aetna, “Medicare Supplement Plans in Your State
6. Cigna, “State Disclosures, Exclusions, Limitations & Reductions
7. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, “2020 Medicare Prescription Drug Landscape
8. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, “2020 Medicare Prescription Drug Landscape
9. Aetna, “Medicare Advantage Plans"
10. Cigna, “Medicare Advantage Plans
11. Aetna, “Outline of Coverage
12. Cigna, “Compare Medicare Supplement Plans
13. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, “2020 Medicare Prescription Drug Landscape
14. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, “2020 Medicare Prescription Drug Landscape
15. S&P Global, “S&P Downgrades Aetna, Subsidiaries
16. S&P Global, “S&P Downgrades Cigna, Subsidiaries
17. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, “2020 Medicare Advantage Landscape
18. Cigna, “Cigna Medicare Supplement Insurance
19. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, “2020 Medicare Prescription Drug Landscape
20. S&P Global Ratings, “Understanding Ratings
21. Aetna, “Medicare Advantage Plans"
22. Cigna, “Medicare Advantage Plans
23. Aetna, "A Reliable Way to Limit Your Out-of-Pocket Costs"
24. Cigna, "Compare Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans"
25. Standard and Poors, "S&P Global Ratings Definitions"

Content on this site has not been reviewed or endorsed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the United States Government, any state Medicare agency, or any private insurance agency (collectively "Medicare System Providers"). Eligibility.com is a DBA of Clear Link Technologies, LLC and is not affiliated with any Medicare System Providers.

Alex Enabnit
Written by
Alex Enabnit
Medicare and geriatric care expert, Alex has one motivation behind every word he writes, and that’s finding you the best medical coverage for your situation. Alex has been featured on Bloomer Boomer, Best Company, HealthPopuli.com, the Daily Ledger on the One America News Network, WBAP News radio, and more. Outside of work, you can find him hiking with his wife and pup or (occasionally) going to the gym.
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