UnitedHealth buys two Medicare plans

UnitedHealth on Tuesday announced that it's buying two Florida insurance companies that manage Medicare and Medicaid plans, further positioning itself as a leader in the Medicare market.

The acquisition of Preferred Care Partners and Medica, both located in the Miami area, would add almost 100,000 members--including 85,000 Medicare Advantage members and 12,000 Medicaid members--as well as eight clinics for UnitedHealth, thereby beefing up the insurer's already strong position in Florida, where about 10 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries live, reported Reuters.

UnitedHealth is the largest insurer in terms of enrollment, including seniors. It claims to provide insurance for one in five Medicare beneficiaries.

"This is certainly a bold move by United," Joseph Caruncho, founder and chief executive officer of Preferred Care, said. "It shows their commitment to become involved in South Florida and immediately become a major player."

Caruncho added that UnitedHealth will benefit from its existing "relationship with the community and the seniors," reported the Miami Herald.

Preferred Care and Medica will remain separate from UnitedHealth's HMO, and their members won't see any changes in coverage this year. However, UnitedHealth hasn't announced its integration plans beyond 2012, according to the South Florida Business Journal.

Terms of the two deals were not announced.

To learn more:
- read the Reuters article
- see the Miami Herald article
- check out the South Florida Business Journal article