MANAGED CARE PLAN EXPANDS TO INCLUDE MEDICARE BENEFICIARIES IN 60 IOWA COUNTIES
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has approved a request by UniCare Life and Health Insurance Co. to expand its private fee-for-service health care coverage to Medicare beneficiaries in 60 counties throughout Iowa.
UniCare Life and Health Insurance, based in Newbury Park, Calif., is now serving beneficiaries in the 60 counties, including the cities of Ames, Davenport, Des Moines, Iowa City, Mason City and Sioux City. Beneficiaries can sign up for the plan during the current open enrollment in Medicare Advantage, formerly known as Medicare+Choice. About 220,000 beneficiaries live in the 60 counties. (A list of the 60 counties, out of Iowa’s total of 99 counties, is attached.)
UniCare Life and Health Insurance began serving beneficiaries in the Midwest and South in 2003. The company currently operates a private fee-for-service, Medicare Advantage plan in 294 counties in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Nebraska, Virginia and Wisconsin.
“We are pleased UniCare Life and Health Insurance Co. decided to expand this health plan to include beneficiaries in Iowa," 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.”
UniCare is offering the private fee-for-service plan under the Medicare Advantage program. In addition to UniCare, two other organizations, Sterling Life Insurance Co. and Humana, offer this type of plan to beneficiaries in Iowa and many other states across the country. A private fee-for-service plan is an insurance program that charges enrollees a premium and cost-sharing amounts and lets beneficiaries choose the providers they want to see, as long as these providers accept the private fee-for-service insurance program.
UniCare is a subsidiary of WellPoint, based in Thousand Oaks, Calif. The company’s product, Security Choice, gives beneficiaries in Iowa another Medicare Advantage organization to select. Several Medicare Advantage plans currently operate in the newly approved service area.
"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," CMS Acting Administrator Dennis G. Smith 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 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.
The following 60 counties in Iowa are included in Unicare Life and Health Insurance’s coverage area for its private fee-for-service health care plan for Medicare beneficiaries:
Adair, Allamakee, Audubon, Boone, Buena Vista, Carroll, Cedar, Cerro Gordo, Cherokee, Clarke, Clay, Clayton, Dallas, Davis, Decatur, Delaware, Dickinson, Emmet, Fayette, Floyd, Franklin, Greene, Grundy, Hardin, Henry, Howard, Humboldt, Iowa, Jasper, Jefferson, Johnson, Keokuk, Kossuth, Linn, Louisa, Lucas, Lyon, Mahaska, Marion, Marshall, Mitchell, Muscatine, O’Brien, Osceola, Page, Palo Alto, Plymouth, Polk, Scott, Sioux, Story, Tama, Union, Van Buren, Washington, Wayne, Winnebago, Winneshiek. Woodbury and Worth.