Cigna vs. Blue Cross Blue Shield: Comparing Medicare Health Plans

Alex Enabnit
Licensed Insurance Agent and Medicare Expert Writer
December 13, 2019

Cigna and Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) are two of the largest insurance companies that sell Medicare health plans. Depending on where you live, the companies and the plans they sell work a bit differently. Comparing plans between the two companies can get a little tricky, but we want to give you as much information as we can to help you make better health decisions.

Cigna/Cigna-HealthSpring
Blue Cross Blue Shield

Access to provider networks

Global network of over 1.5 million health care providers1

95% of US doctors and specialists contract with BCBS2

MA plan availability

46 states and DC3

41 states4

Medigap plan availability

44 states and DC5

Varies depending on local BCBS insurer

PDP availability

Nationwide6

37 states7

Data effective 12/12/2019.

First up, here’s a breakdown of how these two companies operate.

  • Cigna sells Medicare Advantage (MA) plans and 3 prescription drug plans (PDPs) nationwide under the name Cigna-HealthSpring.8 Medigap plans are sold under the name Cigna. Cigna has over 1.5 million health care professionals around the world.
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield includes 36 unique, locally run companies that operate under the Blue Cross Blue Shield brand.9 So where you live determines which BCBS company you can buy a plan from. BCBS also has a wide range of Medicare Advantage and Part D plans.10

Cigna vs. BCBS: Medicare Advantage and prescription drug plans

To compare Medicare plans between Cigna and Blue Cross Blue Shield, we needed to get local because the plans available to you from each company depend on the local BCBS insurer where you live.

We pulled example plan information from Dallas, Texas, to give you an idea of the benefits and costs of plans offered by each company. In our Texas search, we found Cigna-HealthSpring sells one Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plan, one HMO Special Needs Plan (HMO SNP), two Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plans, and three Part D prescription drug plans. In comparison, BCBS lets beneficiaries choose between two PPOs—plus three PDPs.

Cigna and BCBS Medicare Advantage plans (in Dallas, TX)

Cigna-HealthSpring11

  • Cigna-HealthSpring Preferred (HMO)
  • Cigna-HealthSpring TotalCare (HMO SNP)
  • Cigna-HealthSpring Preferred (PPO)
  • Cigna-HealthSpring Advantage (PPO)

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas12

  • Blue Cross Medicare Advantage Value (HMO)
  • Blue Cross Medicare Advantage Choice Plus (PPO)
  • Blue Cross Medicare Advantage Choice Premier (PPO)

Confused about all those abbreviations? Find out the main differences between HMO, PPO, PFFS, and other plans on our Advantage plan comparison page.

Remember, the specific plan options, costs, and availability depend on your location. Do your own research and compare plans from many providers before making a decision.

Comparing stand-alone PDP benefits

We also compared the prescription drug plans (PDPs) that Cigna-HealthSpring and BCBS sell in Texas. Again, the benefits and costs are similar, but each offers some unique coverage.

Cigna and BCBS prescription drug plans (in Dallas, TX)

Cigna-HealthSpring13

  • 2019 Cigna-HealthSpring Rx Secure (PDP)
  • 2019 Cigna-HealthSpring Rx Secure-Extra (PDP)
  • 2019 Cigna-HealthSpring Rx Secure-Essential (PDP)

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas14

  • Blue Cross MedicareRx Basic (PDP)
  • Blue Cross MedicareRx Value (PDP)
  • Blue Cross MedicareRx Plus (PDP)

Sample plans based on Cigna.com and BCBSTexas.com and are for illustration purposes only. Actual plans may vary. All drug prices assume the prescription is filled at a preferred retail pharmacy for a 30-day supply. Data effective 12/12/2019.

How much you'll pay for prescriptions with each of these plans depends on what tiers your medications fall into. To estimate your drug costs, write down the drugs you take and compare them to each plan's formulary.

Comparing Medicare Supplement plans

With Medicare Supplement, or Medigap, it’s important to remember that plan benefits are standardized and don’t change from insurer to insurer. What can differ are the menu of plans offered and each plan’s premium cost.

Medigap plan
Cigna15
BCBS of Texas16

Plan A

Yes

Yes

Plan B

No

No

Plan C

No

No

Plan D

No

No

Plan F

Yes

Yes

Plan G

Yes

Yes

Plan K

No

Yes

Plan L

No

Yes

Plan M

No

No

Plan N

Yes

Yes

High deductible Plan F

Yes

Yes

Data effective 12/12/2019.

Our research on Cigna and BCBS of Texas Medigap plans turned up a few differences. Cigna sells five plans, while BCBS sells seven. Both companies offer Plan A, F, G, N, and high deductible Plan F, but only BCBS also offers Plan K or Plan L. Neither company sells Plans B, C, D, or M.

As a side note, on January 1, 2020, newly eligible Medicare beneficiaries won’t be able to buy a Medigap Plan F, high deductible Plan F, or Plan C. However, that doesn’t mean those plans are going away for everybody. Find out what this means for you, and your possible options.

The bottom line: Cigna vs. BCBS

What's most important in the Cigna vs. Blue Cross Blue Shield comparison? Location, location, location. Because both companies operate differently depending on where you live, you need to get to know which local insurers offer plans in your area.

Finally, look again at our plan comparison tables above. You can see that—at least in Texas—both companies offer similar plans but with slightly different options. Decide what’s more important to you, whether that be low premiums, low copays, special benefits, or other factors, to help you make your decision.

Have you made your decision? Need help finding the right plan for you? Call an agent.

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Sources

1. Cigna, “Global Health Solutions
2. Blue Cross Blue Shield, “The Blue Cross Blue Shield System
3. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, “2020 Medicare Advantage Landscape
4. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, “2020 Medicare Advantage Landscape
5. Cigna, “State Disclosures, Exclusions, Limitations & Reductions
6. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, “2020 Medicare Prescription Drug Landscape
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. BlueCross BlueShield Association, “Blue Facts
10. Blue Cross Blue Shield, “2019 MA & PDPs Offered by BCBS Companies
11. Cigna, "Medicare Advantage Plans (Part C)"
12. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, "Medicare Advantage Plan Documents"
13. Cigna, "Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans"
14. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, "Prescription Drug Plan Documents"
15. Cigna, "Compare Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans"
16. BlueCross BlueShield of Texas, “Medicare Supplement Insurance Plan Documents

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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