MANAGED CARE PLAN OFFERED TO MEDICARE BENEFICIARIES IN SEDGWICK COUNTY, KANSAS INCLUDING CITY OF WICHITA
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has approved a request by United Healthcare Insurance Co. Inc. to offer managed care coverage to Medicare beneficiaries in Sedgwick County in south central Kansas including the city of Wichita .
United Healthcare Insurance Co. will operate a preferred provider organization (PPO) health plan that will begin serving beneficiaries on Apri1 1 throughout the county. Medicare beneficiaries can sign up for the plan during the current open enrollment in Medicare Advantage, formerly known as Medicare+Choice. About 62,000 beneficiaries live in the county.
"We are pleased United Healthcare Insurance Co. decided to offer this health plan to beneficiaries in Wichita and the rest of Sedgwick County ,” HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt 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.”
United Healthcare Insurance Co, a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group based in Minnetonka , Minn. , will give another health care option to beneficiaries in Sedgwick County . No other Medicare Advantage plans currently operate in the county.
PPO plans are modeled after coverage offered by PPOs to most Americans under age 65. Unlike traditional HMOs, PPOs allow beneficiaries who choose to enroll, access to services provided outside the contracted network of providers.
“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."
Since Dec. 8, 2003, when President Bush signed the Medicare Modernization Act into law, CMS has approved 45 new contracts with Medicare health plans and 66 service area expansions. There are currently 139 applications pending for new contracts and 32 service area expansions pending.
Medicare Advantage HMOs, PPOs 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.