HCSC charts 3rd straight year of MA expansion for 2024

In what the insurer bills as its third consecutive year of significant expansion into the market, Health Care Service Corporation will offer Medicare Advantage (MA) plans in 99 additional counties for 2024.

That anticipated footprint for 2024 will mean the company is offering MA or MA Prescription Drug plans in 82% of the counties in the five states it services: Illinois, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. HCSC has 18 million members total across those states.

At the core of HCSC's strategy is its close partnership with providers across the regions it serves.

“We have deep and long-standing relationships with our provider partners, and our MAPD network currently includes nearly 58,000 physicians, 263,000 specialists and 8,800 hospitals and facilities across our states,” Christine Kourouklis, HCSC’s Medicare president, told Fierce Healthcare in an email. “Additional providers will be added to support the expansion and access to care.”

In a press release, HCSC said it designed its MA plans to meet the “diverse needs” of enrollees that go beyond traditional Medicare coverage.

Nathan Linsley, HCSC’s senior vice president of government and individual markets, said in the press release that HCSC continues “to invest in our member experience and provider networks to ensure our Medicare members receive the highest quality of care and service.”

HCSC’s move provides further evidence of MA’s popularity and continued growth. In 2003, MA accounted for about 15% of total Medicare members. Now, it accounts for nearly half. MA enrollment increased 337% between 2006 and 2022. 

And while MA enrollees may be happy with their plans, that doesn’t mean that all of them fully understand their benefits package, according to a recent survey by Retirement Living. While 61% of respondents said their MA plan outperforms their previous coverage, only 44% said they fully understand it, and 68% cited details that have left them confused.

HCSC said it wants to increase the options for Medicare beneficiaries in rural and underserved areas that bigger national plans sometimes overlook. Kourouklis told Fierce Healthcare it pinpoints those areas “through a mix of demographic and geographic factors.”

She said strengthening provider services will involve contracting with more specialists as well as primary care physicians.

The major MA push by HCSC follows growth for 2022 in which it added plans in 90 new counties, which extended its market reach to an additional 1.1 million beneficiaries.

Medicare's annual enrollment period begins Oct. 15.