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Aetna to shut down state Medicare HMO

By KRIS HUNDLEY

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 30, 2000


Aetna Inc. said Thursday that it will stop offering Medicare HMOs in Florida and 10 other states next year, the latest in a string of insurers to exit the business in response to reduced government reimbursements.

Aetna's plan also means the closing in those states of Medicare HMOs offered by Prudential HealthCare, which is owned by Aetna. The companies have a total Medicare HMO enrollment of 10,101 members in the Tampa Bay area and more than 47,600 in Florida. Nationwide, their Medicare membership is about 355,000.

In addition to Florida, Aetna is closing Medicare HMOs in Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Ohio, Texas and Washington, as well as in certain counties in New York, Pennsylvania and California.

Aetna's withdrawal is effective Dec. 31; members have until then to choose a new Medicare HMO or return to traditional Medicare. But they may want to wait until Monday before choosing a new insurer: That is the deadline for companies to notify the government if they intend to leave the Medicare HMO business.

Four companies -- Humana, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, United HealthCare and WellCare -- have not disclosed whether they will remain in the Tampa Bay area.

AvMed Health Plan will continue offering Medicare HMO coverage in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties but is leaving Hernando and Pasco counties. This month, Cigna HealthCare also said it was dropping its Medicare HMO business in the bay area.

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