MANAGED CARE PLAN EXPANDS TO INCLUDE MEDICARE BENEFICIARIES IN POLK COUNTY, FLA.
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 Polk County, Fla., in the Tampa Bay area.
UnitedHealthcare of Florida, based in Tampa, Fla., will begin serving beneficiaries on Aug. 1 in Polk County in central Florida, including the city of Lakeland. Medicare beneficiaries can sign up for the plan during the current open enrollment for Medicare Advantage, formerly known as Medicare+Choice. About 100,000 beneficiaries live in the county.
"We are pleased UnitedHealthcare of Florida decided to expand this health plan to include Medicare beneficiaries in Polk County,” 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 1995 in the Tampa area, currently serves eight Florida counties, including the cities of St. Petersburg, Tampa, Fort Myers and Sarasota. UnitedHealthcare of Florida is a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group, based in Minnetonka, Minn.
The UnitedHealthcare of Florida plan gives beneficiaries in Polk County another health care choice. The other Medicare Advantage plan currently operating in the county is Quality Health Plans Inc.
“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.