The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has approved a request by Cariten Health Plan Inc. to expand its managed care plan to Medicare beneficiaries in 10 counties in eastern Tennessee.
Cariten Health Plan, based in Knoxville, Tenn., can now sign up and serve beneficiaries in the counties of Carter, Greene, Hamblen, Hancock, Hawkins, Johnson, Monroe, Sullivan, Washington, including Johnson City and Unicoi. About 84,000 beneficiaries live in the managed care organization's newly approved service area.
"We are pleased Cariten Health Plan has decided to expand this health plan to more Medicare beneficiaries in eastern Tennessee," HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson said. "The reality is, Medicare should provide all seniors - no matter where they live - with better health insurance options, including prescription drug coverage and preventive care. The President's goals for strengthening and modernizing Medicare will move us closer to that goal."
Cariten Health Plan, which operates as Cariten Senior Health, began serving beneficiaries in 1998 in 15 eastern Tennessee counties. The plan will give another health care option to beneficiaries living in the 10 eastern Tennessee counties. Beneficiaries in those counties already can choose between two Medicare+Choice plans - John Deere Health Plan Inc. and Sterling Life Insurance Co.
Cariten Health Plan is owned by Cariten Healthcare, a subordinate entity of PHP Companies Inc., based in Knoxville.
"We want to make sure all Medicare beneficiaries, whether in a Medicare+Choice plan or fee-for-service, are receiving the highest quality health care," CMS Administrator
Tom Scully said. "We are doing more to guarantee that beneficiaries understand the Medicare coverage options available to them. We also are reminding beneficiaries of the need to work closely with the doctors and other health care providers that give them medical care."
Medicare+Choice HMOs and fee-for-service plans are available where private companies choose to offer them. Currently, about 4.6 million Medicare beneficiaries -- out of a total of about 40 million aged and disabled Americans - have enrolled in Medicare HMOs. Original fee-for-service Medicare, currently chosen by more than 35 million beneficiaries, is available to all beneficiaries.
Medicare has a far-reaching consumer information program that includes a national toll-free phone number -- 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or TTY/TDD, at 877-486-2048 -- an Internet site -- www.medicare.gov -- and a coalition of more than 200 national and local organizations to provide seniors more information.