HealthLeaders-InterStudy, a leading provider of managed care market intelligence, reports that population growth in several smaller Florida markets is creating opportunity for local and national health plans. According to the latest Florida Health Plan Analysis, Aetna and Humana, along with the dominant Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, have developed strategies to capitalize on the population growth in these up-and-coming markets.
According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, five of the nation's 15 fastest-growing metropolitan areas (by percentage increase) were in Florida and include Palm Coast, the fastest-growing MSA in the country, Ocala, Port St. Lucie-Fort Pierce, Cape Coral and Naples.
"As the default insurer for the state, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida is well positioned to absorb these new residents and continue to dominate most of the markets," states Roy Moore, market analyst for HealthLeaders-InterStudy and author of the report. "However, the national insurers are making these smaller communities far more competitive."
Aetna has poured resources into physician recruitment and network development along Palm Coast. Much of the employment growth in this area is in retail such as restaurant workers and hotel workers who are ideal candidates for Aetna's limited benefits plan. Expansions have also taken place in Ocala, and Aetna obtained an HMO license for the Tallahassee market where it believes it can enroll covered lives in the college town.
On the individual-product side, Humana reduced its rates by 10 percent to 15 percent in the Port St. Lucie-Fort Pierce area. After lowering costs, Humana saw about a 10 percent jump in business. Humana is also targeting southwest Florida were there is a significant and increasing base of national employers such as Tropicana, Siemens and Gevity with large workforces. The population base is also affluent and includes a sizable group of top corporate decision makers who have set up second or seasonal homes.
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