MANAGED CARE PLAN EXPANDS TO INCLUDE MEDICARE BENEFICIARIES IN 2 NORTHERN N.C. COUNTIES
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today approved a request by UnitedHealthcare of North Carolina Inc. to expand managed care coverage to Medicare beneficiaries in Caswell and Person counties in northern North Carolina.
UnitedHealthcare of North Carolina, based in Greensboro, N.C., will begin serving beneficiaries on June1 in the two rural counties. Medicare beneficiaries can sign up for the plan during the current open enrollment for Medicare Advantage, formerly known as Medicare+Choice. About 9,400 beneficiaries live in the two counties.
"We are pleased UnitedHealthcare of North Carolina decided to expand this health plan to include more Medicare beneficiaries in northern North Carolina,” HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson said. "Under the Medicare reform law signed by President Bush, Medicare will provide all seniors - no matter where they live - with better health insurance options, including prescription drug coverage and preventive care. The law is achieving the President's goals of strengthening and modernizing Medicare.”
The company, which began serving beneficiaries in 1998 in North Carolina, currently serves 17 counties in that state. UnitedHealthcare of North Carolina is a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group, based in Minnetonka, Minn.
The plan gives beneficiaries in Caswell and Person counties another health care choice. No other Medicare Advantage plans are currently available in the two counties.
“We want to make sure all Medicare beneficiaries, whether in a Medicare Advantage plan or fee-for-service, are receiving the highest quality health care," said CMS Administrator Mark McClellan, M.D., Ph.D. "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 Advantage 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.