The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today approved a request by UnitedHealthcare of Florida Inc. to expand managed care coverage to Medicare beneficiaries in Manatee and Sarasota counties on Florida's Gulf Coast.
UnitedHealthcare of Florida, based in Tampa, Fla., can begin serving beneficiaries on Sept. 1, 2003, in the two counties, including the cities of Bradenton and Sarasota. Medicare beneficiaries can sign up for the plan during the current Medicare+Choice open enrollment. About 212,000 beneficiaries live in Manatee and Sarasota counties.
The company began serving beneficiaries in 1995 in the Florida counties of Charlotte, Hernando, Hillsborough, Lee, Pasco and Pinellas.
"We are pleased UnitedHealthcare of Florida has decided to expand this health plan to include beneficiaries in Manatee and Sarasota counties," 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."
UnitedHealthcare of Florida is a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group, based in Minnetonka, Minn. The company's product, Medicare Complete, will give Medicare beneficiaries in Manatee and Sarasota counties another Medicare+Choice organization to select. Universal Health Care Inc. currently operates in these counties.
"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.