MANAGED CARE PLAN OFFERED TO MEDICARE BENEFICIARIES IN 10 COUNTIES IN OMAHA, NEB. AND COUNCIL BLUFFS, IOWA AREA
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has approved a request by United HealthCare Insurance Co. to offer a managed care-preferred provider organization (PPO) plan to Medicare beneficiaries in 10 counties in the Omaha, Neb.-Council Bluffs, Iowa area.
United HealthCare Insurance Co., based in Hartford, Conn., is now serving Medicare beneficiaries in six Nebraska and four Iowa counties, including the cities of Omaha and Council Bluffs. The Nebraska counties are Burt, Cass, Douglas, Otoe, Sarpy and Washington, and the Iowa counties are Crawford, Page, Pottawattamie and Shelby.
About 105,000 beneficiaries live in the 10 counties. Beneficiaries can sign up for the plan during the current Medicare+Choice open enrollment period.
"We are pleased that United HealthCare Insurance Co. has decided to offer this new PPO option to Medicare beneficiaries in the Omaha-Council Bluffs area," 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."
United HealthCare Insurance Co. is a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group, based in Minnetonka, Minn. The company through its Medicare Complete Choice PPO plans will give another health care choice to beneficiaries living in the 10 counties. Beneficiaries living in these counties already can choose between two and four Medicare+Choice plans.
"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."
United HealthCare Insurance Co. is offering two plans. Plan No. 1 is open to all beneficiaries in Douglas and Pottawattamie counties, while Plan No. 2 is available in the other eight counties. The No. 2 plan includes prescription drug coverage and the No. 1 plan does not. Neither plan charges a premium.
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.
Congress created Medicare+Choice in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 to expand the types of health care options available to Medicare beneficiaries, who in addition can now receive new preventive benefits and patient protections. There also is 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.