More than 300 affected by canceled insurance

Apr. 03, 2013 @ 05:25 PM

Due to cancellation of Medicare Advantage plans issued by Universal Health Care, 306 residents in Vance County are currently eligible for a special election period.

Universal was recently ordered into receivership by the state of Florida for the purposes of rehabilitation and liquidation. On April 1 coverage provided by Universal through plans such as “Any Any Any” and “Hassle Free” were terminated.

“They’re based in the state of Florida, so Florida is sort of their primary regulator and receivership is kind of a supervisory thing,” said Kerry Hall, director of public information for the N.C. Department of Insurance. “Essentially they must have been having some financial problems, and so their regulator has stepped in.

“Their companies were based in Florida, but licensed to do business in other states, including North Carolina.”

In North Carolina, Universal policies were issued in 26 counties to more than 2,700 people.

Given the cancellation of Medicare Advantage plans through Universal, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services automatically enrolled those affected to avoid a lapse in coverage.

Through May 31, affected beneficiaries have a one-time option to:

• Select another Medicare Advantage or Medicare Advantage prescription drug plan.

• Stay with Original Medicare and also enroll in a Medicare Supplement, or Medigap policy.

• Stay with Original Medicare, but change the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services generated enrollment to another prescription drug plan.

According to Hall, Medicare Advantage Plans, also known as Medicare Part C, are offered by private companies, in this case Universal Health Care, which contract with Medicare to provide Medicare Part A, hospital insurance, and Medicare Part B, medical insurance.

“Medicare Advantage works through private insurance companies so plans may differ,” Hall said.

The Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program is working to provide information and enrollment assistance to former Universal beneficiaries. In a written statement, N.C. insurance commissioner Wayne Goodwin described efforts being made.

“We want to make sure that everyone affected by the termination of Universal’s Medicare plans understands their rights and options,” Goodwin said. “SHIIP staff members stand ready to assist with any questions about Medicare coverage.”

SHIIP, a division of the N.C. Department of Insurance, offers free, objective information about Medicare, Medicare prescription drug coverage, Medicare Advantage, long-term care insurance and all other health insurance information.

More information about SHIIP and answers to Medicare questions are available by calling toll free to (800) 443-9354, or by visiting online at ncshiip.com.


Contact the writer at amauser@hendersondispatch.com.