Posted on Dec 02, 2011 by Sergio Ulloa
Cigna Inc, a leading global expatriate benefits provider, is expanding its healthcare network in Brazil with the launch of a new CignaLinks program designed to provide simple, locally-compliant healthcare solutions to employers and their globally mobile employees in the populous Latin American country. Through an alliance partnership with Gama Saude, one of Brazil's largest private medical operators, Cigna will provide customers with comfortable access to more than 20,000 doctors, hospitals and other quality healthcare services, all at competitive prices.
CignaLinks is a specialized health admin program designed by Cigna to simplify the varied and often complex claims and payment procedures that can occur for globally mobile clients, their employees, and their families, when receiving medical treatment in a foreign country. The program works to address local compliance issues unique to the market a policyholder is filing a claim in, which is particularly useful in a country like Brazil where government regulations can affect benefit offerings as well as access to care for expatriates.
By increasing their footprint in Brazil, Cigna reaffirms their commitment to developing its expatriate healthcare business in promising international markets
. Tim Blevins, Senior Director for Cigna International Expatriate Benefits, explained in a press briefing today that the expansion of the Philadelphia-based health insurance company's network in Brazil meant that Cigna's customers would now have access to more than one million medical specialists and a comprehensive range of hospital and medical facilities worldwide. "The key advantage of using the CignaLinks network is that it provides our globally mobile customers with an easy, administration-friendly process to accessing high quality local health care systems around the world." Blevins said, adding that "Our CignaLinks customers receive locally-compliant solutions and always have access to our 24/7 International Service Center."
Cigna's chief partner in Brazil is Gama Saude, one of the country's largest hospital networks. Over the next few years, Cigna will look to build upon this relationship, gradually integrating it international expatriate benefit coverage network with a greater proportion of administrative services and medical facilities in Brazil. According to the insurer, policyholders should look to benefit from this extended partnership directly, "by receiving substantial discounts when accessing the local network for care and by reducing their out-of-pocket costs at the time care is delivered."
Entrance into the Brazilian insurance market has been a priority for Cigna for some time and will enable the company to respond more effectively to the local market as well as internationally. Brazil is by far the largest insurance market in South America, encompassing more than 40 percent of the gross written premiums in the region. Recent economic stability, positive credit trends, and regulatory reforms that have stabilized the currency and promoted domestic savings, are producing sound growth and a demand for coverage across the insurance industry in Brazil.
Despite protracted regulatory hurdles
, large multinational insurance companies cannot ignore the market's size and growth potential and will be looking to invest themselves further in the country, as well as other emerging economies, to offset the stagnant business forecasts in their mature North American and Western European home markets. In 2010 the Brazilian insurance industry outpaced the country's gross domestic products, growing 16.6 percent, with gross written premiums amounting to R$ 99.4 billion (US$ 62.7 billion). The country's burgeoning export-led economy also presents further avenues for growth in the expatriate medical insurance field. Brazil now hosts many prominent multinational companies that need coverage options for their employees, many of whom are globally mobile. Cigna recognize this business opportunity.
Latin America is far from the only region offering pronounced investment opportunities for multinational insurance companies during these volatile macroeconomic times. Indeed, several insurers, most notably Nordic and ING
, have decided to leave the continent to focus on the Asia-Pacific region
, which offers even more robust prospects. In the past year Cigna has made similar moves into Singapore, Turkey and most recently India. Cigna has consistently been one of the most proactive American insurers looking to develop its presence in emerging economies, along with Aetna and MetLife. These firms have all been seeking to increase their footprint in global insurance markets in order to offset the relatively low premium growth forecast in the USA, in addition to the continued unrest surrounding the 2010 US Health Reform Law
, which could have a far-reaching impact on the industry and comes into effect in 2014. Furthermore, many insurers are looking to diversify and potentially become larger insurance conglomerates to better absorb upcoming changes in the once lucrative US market. This was demonstrated in Cigna's US$3.8 billion purchase of Medicare carrier HealthSpring Inc in October.
International insurance markets offer enticing post-reform growth opportunities for US based insurers. As BRIC economies further develop, Cigna plans to be at the forefront with an aggressive strategy to take advantage of the projected increasing demand for insurance policies that will provide better coverage than the government provided coverage plans in the region. Industry analysts predict Cigna's international operations could grow to become a third of the company's total business within the next three to five years.
Insurance Companies Mentioned
CIGNA Health Insurance is a global health service company dedicated to helping people improve their health, well being and sense of security. CIGNA Corporation's operating subsidiaries provide an integrated suite of medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy and vision care benefits, as well as group life, accident and disability insurance, to approximately 46 million people throughout the United States and around the world.