MANAGED CARE PLAN EXPANDS TO INCLUDE MEDICARE BENEFICIARIES IN 3 SOUTHWESTERN MISSOURI COUNTIES
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today approved a request by UnitedHealthcare of the Midwest to expand managed care coverage to Medicare beneficiaries in three rural counties in southwestern Missouri.
UnitedHealthcare of The Midwest, based in St. Louis, Mo., will begin serving beneficiaries on July 1 in Dallas and Polk counties in the Springfield, Mo., area and McDonald County in rural southwestern Missouri. Medicare beneficiaries can sign up for the plan during the current open enrollment for Medicare Advantage, formerly known as Medicare+Choice. About 11,000 beneficiaries live in the three counties.
"We are pleased UnitedHealthcare of The Midwest decided to expand this health plan to include Medicare beneficiaries in southwestern Missouri,” 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 1992, currently serves 16 Missouri counties and St. Louis City. UnitedHealthcare of The Midwest is a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group, based in Minnetonka, Minn.
The company’s product, Medicare Complete, gives beneficiaries in the three counties another health care choice. Mercy Premier Plus is currently operating a Medicare Advantage plan in these 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.