HealthLeaders-InterStudy, a leading provider of managed care industry intelligence, reports that Texas is seeing a number of new health plans gaining Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) approval. According to the latest issue of Texas Health Plan Analysis CMS reported 243,221 Texans enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan featuring a Part D drug benefit as of mid-March.
"The nine Medicare Advantage contracts awarded in Texas in 2005 is the most since 1999," said Ric Gross, HealthLeaders-InterStudy analyst. "The Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 increased Medicare reimbursement rates, which had been stagnating. But for Texas, it's not just the reimbursement rates, but also the growth in Medicare eligibles that's driving health plan interest. As more retirees head for Texas, expect more plans to enter the market."
Among plans that have new Medicare Advantage offerings are Valley Baptist Health Plans Inc., FIRSTCARE, Physicians Health Choice, Elder Health, and Aetna. Aetna is particularly a sign of the times, since it had left the Texas Medicare market in 2001, and has now returned with HMO and PPO offerings in the Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio markets.
Other health plan news in Texas: * The year 2006 has gotten off to a bumpy start for the Children's Health Insurance Program in the state as enrollment dropped by about 21,000 from December 2005 to March 2006. * UnitedHealth Group is piloting its OnePay program in Texas, paying providers the amount owed on a claim, then billing the patient for his share. * The Texas Blues is collaborating with the Department of State Health Services to produce a toolkit to help Texas employers develop and improve programs for employee wellness. About Health Plan Analysis
Health Plan Analysis identifies key health plan trends, allowing healthcare businesses to create comprehensive strategic plans and sales strategies at state and local levels.
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