Sonoma County Seniors Investigate Insurance Options after Health Plan of the Redwoods Ceases Operations
About 3,000 seniors in Sonoma County attended an informational session Thursday about new insurance coverage options after Health Plan of the Redwoods ceases operations, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports (Rose, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 9/13). Faced with an $8 million budget deficit since Jan. 1, HPR filed for federal Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on May 31. HPR officials estimate that the health plan owes $38.7 million to creditors, which include local hospitals, physicians and other health care professionals (California Healthline, 8/5). HPR last month decided to liquidate and shut down by Oct. 31, which would leave 78,000 members with only three months to find a new health insurer, including 11,000 seniors enrolled in the insurer's Medicare+Choice plan, called MediPrime (California Healthline, 9/11). Although seniors insured through MediPrime have until March to enroll in a supplemental Medicare plan without completing a medical history review, insurers including PacifiCare and Health Net are conducting publicity campaigns to attract seniors to their plans, and insurance agents are encouraging seniors to "take advantage" of the offers. Kaiser Permanente is the only insurer that offers a Medicare+Choice plan in the county, but it has capped enrollment. Seniors enrolled in HPR's MediPrime had paid $79 per month in premiums, and many were concerned about paying more for supplemental Medicare coverage, which can cost from $20 to $120 more than MediPrime. The Press Democrat reports that seniors also were concerned about how long the available plans would operate in Sonoma County. Seniors who do not enroll in a supplemental plan will receive coverage through traditional fee-for-service Medicare (Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 9/13).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.