HealthLeaders-InterStudy, a leading provider of managed care industry intelligence, reports UnitedHealth Group, the nation's second-largest health insurer, is poised to become an even bigger competitor in the Mid-Atlantic. According to the latest Mid-Atlantic Health Plan Analysis, with recent acquisitions and new contracts with three major provider systems, subsidiary UnitedHealthcare (UHC) has laid the groundwork to pick up scores of new members.
"Virginia is an attractive state for UHC, with service-oriented companies that are a big piece of the market, posing great opportunity for membership growth," states Jan Shuxteau, HealthLeaders-InterStudy market analyst and author of the report. "This growth could make UHC more competitive against dominant Virginia health plan Anthem, which is owned by WellPoint."
As of July 1, 2006, Anthem had 250,955 commercial HMO members and has a very strong presence in the Virginia managed care marketplace.
UHC acquired John Deere Insurance last year, gaining more than 57,000 members in its Virginia commercial HMO and point-of-service plans. In 2004 UHC pulled off the largest acquisition among Mid-Atlantic insurers with its purchase of Mid Atlantic Medical Services Inc., acquiring close to 2 million members in Virginia, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Delaware, West Virginia, North Carolina and southeastern Pennsylvania.
In February, UHC contracted with Carilion, giving its customers in southwestern Virginia access to Carilion's extensive regional network in the Roanoke, New River and Shenandoah valleys-an oval-shaped area that extends 250 miles from end to end. This is the first time the two companies have contracted together.
UHC's contract with Riverside Health System, announced in January, is also a first-time agreement. It gives UHC the ability to strengthen its presence in the southeastern part of the state. And in December, Martha Jefferson Hospital and UHC agreed to expand their existing contract, giving UHC customers access to the largest primary care network in the Charlottesville area and more than 400 physicians affiliated with the hospital.
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