Priority Health expands plan area

December 2, 2008
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Priority Health has received approval to sell Medicare Advantage products in four additional counties, the health plan announced last week as the enrollment period opened.

Mecosta County, as well as Emmet, Hillsdale and Jackson counties, were added to the roster. The Spectrum Health-owned nonprofit health plan now offers the plans for people age 65 and older and some disabled individuals in 23 outstate counties, out of Michigan’s 83 counties. The approval was granted by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Vice President of Government Programs Leon Lamoreaux said Priority Health has a “fairly deliberate” plan to unveil its Medicare Advantage products in additional counties across the state. The Spectrum Health-owned health coverage provider intends to apply in March to enter the Detroit-area market, where thousands of automotive retirees have transitioned to Medicare Advantage in the past few years.

“We intended to continue to move into other parts of the state,” Lamoreaux said, including the northern Lower Peninsula and southwestern Michigan. “But the concentration of our expansion is into the Southeast region of the state.”

Priority Health offers three Medicare Advantage plans and a Part D program for prescription coverage, including one that has no cost in 11 West Michigan counties: Allegan, Barry, Kent, Missaukee, Montcalm, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana, Osceola, Ottawa and Wexford.

“It all depends on the cost of care in that county and the CMS reimbursement we receive,” Lamoreaux said.

Priority Health first offered Medicare Advantage in 2005 and now provides the coverage to more than 12,000 people.

The Medicare Advantage enrollment period for 2009 coverage expires Dec. 31.

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