Health Net, PacifiCare Announce Medicare HMO Withdrawals
Pacificare Health Systems Inc. announced Friday that it will drop its Medicare+Choice plan in eight California counties and reduce its coverage in seven others next year, while Health Net Inc. said it will drop its Medicare HMO service in five counties, the Los Angeles Times reports. The move by PacifiCare will affect 32,700 seniors (6% of the company's 519,000 California members) enrolled in its Secure Horizons plan. Health Net's pullout will affect 11,500 seniors in seven California counties; the health plan will withdraw altogether from five counties and will provide only employer-sponsored plans in San Bernardino and Riverside counties (Gellene, Los Angeles Times, 9/22). The San Francisco Chronicle reports that while only about half as many Americans -- 500,000 -- will be affected by Medicare HMO pullouts in 2002 compared to this year, the withdrawals of Medicare HMOs in California for next year "seems to be more dramatic," because they are now extending beyond rural areas into urban and suburban regions. The pullouts by PacifiCare, the state's second-largest Medicare HMO behind Kaiser Permanente, will affect every county in the Bay Area except Santa Clara. Health Net, which will withdraw from seven counties, withdrew from only two counties at the start of this year, affecting 3,200 people. Tricia Neuman, a vice president with the Kaiser Family Foundation, said, "While California hasn't been shielded from the pullouts [in the past], it hasn't felt the full impact the rest of the country has felt. It may be things are changing." Kaiser Permanente will not pull out of any counties this year, while Blue Cross of California will make an announcement "in the next few weeks" (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 9/22).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.