Cigna Expanding Health Insurance To Africa For Expats

Written by Dana Sanchez

As U.S.-based health insurance companies undergo dramatic changes at home, one of the top five, Cigna, is expanding health coverage to Africa for expats, according to a report in RelocateMagazine.

Cigna has a new product that it hopes to sell to expat employees of multinational companies that have offices in Africa.

U.S. health insurers are finding it tougher to raise prices following the roll-out of Obamacare, President Barack Obama’s healthcare law. They’re grappling with soaring expenses of medications including cancer drugs that can cost each patient more than $100,000 a year, according to Reuters.

Africa is an attractive expansion target for Cigna, said Bart Jordens, general manager of Cigna Africa and international organisations.

CignaAfrica claims to have more than 200,000 members in Africa and infrastructure in place for more, including case managers in South Africa and Kenya, a new office in Kenya and an outpatient network with local health care providers, according to its website.

The Cigna Global Health Benefits product for expats includes health benefits, dental and vision coverage, and evacuation and health management services specifically for staff that works locally in Africa but is globally mobile, the report said.

In sub-Saharan Africa, Cigna’s customers include employees of non-profits and intergovernmental organizations. The company says it hires local medical consultants and local communication officers in key hubs and in its claims intake office in Kenya.

“With our already existing infrastructure and experience in Africa, we are in a good position,” Jordens said.

In July, U.S.-based Cigna Corp. agreed to be bought by U.S.-based Anthem Inc. for $48 billion, a deal that will combine the second- and fifth-largest health insurers by revenue. The new company will have a huge footprint in commercial insurance, the type of coverage provided to employers and consumers, WallStreetJournal reported.

The deal is expected to be completed in 2016.

It’s part of a merger frenzy among top U.S. health insurers that could result in a dramatic reshaping of the industry, WSJ reported. Aetna Inc. has also agreed to buy Humana Inc. for $34 billion.

The Cigna-Anthem deal will create the largest U.S. health insurer by membership and accelerate the industry’s consolidation from five national players to three in the U.S., according to Reuters.

Of the major U.S. health insurers, only UnitedHealth Group Inc., the largest of the U.S. insurers by revenue, is sitting out the merger wave, at least so far, WSJ reported in July.