HEALTH NET: Wants To Drop Medicare HMO Coverage In 10 Counties
Citing low Medicare reimbursements, California's third-largest HMO has asked the federal Health Care Financing Administration "to allow its Medicare HMO contract to lapse in 10 counties at the end of this year," the San Luis Obispo Telegram-Tribune reports. Woodland Hills-based Health Net currently offers its Seniority Plus HMO in 33 of California's 58 counties. Health Net Director Ron Yukelson said the annual Medicare reimbursement increases his company is due to receive are unlikely to "cover our projected costs" in San Luis Obispo County, one of the counties that would be affected by the move. Only 2,309 of the county's 38,003 Medicare-eligible residents are enrolled in the plan. One seniors advocate said Health Net's decision could pose problems for area seniors. "(Health Net's request) will pose a problem for people who are currently members ... if they have to search out new doctors. As a consequence, they may not be able to continue with their current doctor," said Bill Pate, coordinator of the Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program, a service provided by the Area Agency on Aging.
About 7,500 of Health Net's 154,000 Medicare members statewide would be affected if the request is granted. Besides San Luis Obispo County, the HMO is seeking to halt Medicare coverage in Butte, Glenn, Colusa, Napa, Solano, Plumas, Sierra, Sutter and Yuba counties (Hurly, 6/25).