Health Advocates Insurance Services In The Media

Shou-Mei Li, right, cares for her husband Hsien-Wen Li, who has Alzheimer’s, at their home in San Francisco, in this photo taken Sept. 1, 2011. Dementia is poised to become a defining disease of a rapidly aging population _ and a budget-busting one for Medicare, Medicaid and families. Anthem Blue Cross and UnitedHealth Group Inc. have both sent letters notifying their customers statewide that they will no longer offer their Medicare Advantage plans. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

** This story has been modified from its original version.

About 8,600 Medicare beneficiaries in San Diego County and at least 5,200 in Riverside County must choose a new health plan because two large insurers have decided to end their Medicare Advantage plans in California next year. Anthem Blue Cross and UnitedHealth Group Inc. have both sent letters notifying their customers statewide that they will no longer offer their Medicare plans. Anthem has introduced a replacement program with similar benefits. UnitedHealth has eliminated a “special needs” program but has maintained its regular Advantage program, which serves 60,000 customers in San Diego County.

First approved by Congress in 1997, Advantage plans allow private insurance companies to offer Medicare benefits that use existing doctor networks similar to the ones provided through private insurance. Advantage plans generally put great emphasis on using “in-network” doctors and facilities. According to the state Department of Health and Human Services, 7,285 San Diego County residents and 5,200 Riverside County residents are enrolled in Anthem’s “Freedom Blue” plans, which will be eliminated in 2012.

Source: PAUL SISSON,  North County Times





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