Make us your home page

Physicians United Medicare HMO folding due to shaky finances

A Medicare Advantage plan that abruptly dumped a popular Tampa Bay area medical practice and sent consumers scrambling for new doctors recently is shutting down entirely at the end of the month after a judge determined that it is insolvent.

Physicians United Plan will be liquidated on July 1 under the order signed by a Leon County judge earlier this week. The Orlando-based plan — which has about 39,000 members statewide, including 1,200 in the Tampa Bay area — was running a $13 million deficit, according to court records.

In April, the company's board of directors said it needed a $30 million infusion of capital to avoid being placed in state receivership. That money never came.

The Florida Department of Financial Services will oversee the company's dismantling. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services should begin notifying enrollees of their options in coming days.

A spokesman for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said the agency hasn't decided what to do. Enrollees might be given a special enrollment period to pick another privately run managed care plan. Or they could be moved into traditional, government-run Medicare until the next open enrollment season begins.

That's what happened last year when St. Petersburg-based Universal Health Care was seized by the state and enrollees who didn't pick a new plan by the liquidation date were put into original Medicare. Although original Medicare offers a wider range of providers than managed care plans, it requires members to pay 20 percent co-insurance, which is why many people in original Medicare carry supplemental plans. Managed care plans generally require lower out-of-pocket spending.

In March, the Tampa Bay Times reported that Physicians United had dropped a popular Valrico doctors practice from its provider list, less than a month after seniors were locked into their 2014 plan selections. Some of the nearly 200 affected patients told the Times they felt they'd been duped into signing up for the plan.

Physicians United had about 250 employees in the Orlando area, according to the Orlando Business Journal, which two years ago reported that the company was on a "growth spurt," expanding its work force and its office space.

The company's real estate arrangements appear to be part of its problem.

An investigator with the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation found on April 14 that the company had been wrongly reporting as assets $29 million that were actually encumbered to a division of Pacific Western Bank, court records show. Physicians United had put up those assets as collateral as part of a loan. On April 16, Physician United's board of directors signed an order admitting it needed a $30 million infusion of cash, the same day the company was served with a default notice from the bank.

Jodie Tillman can be reached at

Physicians United Medicare HMO folding due to shaky finances 06/11/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 11, 2014 8:26pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Exploratory Lab Boot Camp provides real-life technology training to students


    CLEARWATER — At this graduation ceremony featuring some of the brightest local minds in tech, it was the youngsters who stood out.

    Laszlo Leedy, 17, a senior at Shorecrest Prep, presents part of his team's project for SPC's Exploratory Lab Boot Camp. Students presented their ideas at the end of the SPC Exploratory Lab Boot Camp. The program provides real-time business training to students. This year's graduation celebrated 15 students that finished the program. 
[JIM DAMASKE   |   Times]
  2. Appointments at the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay and World of Beer highlight this week's Tampa Bay business Movers & Shakers



    Tampa Bay Watch, Inc., a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and restoration of the marine and wetland environments of the Tampa Bay estuary, has announced two new employees. Pamela Arbisi is the new development director. Her responsibilities include …

    Scott Bendert has joined the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay as the non-profit organization's Chief Financial Officer. [Company handout]
  3. Tampa's Homeowners Choice seeks to offer flood insurance in other states


    Tampa-based insurance company HCI Group Inc.'s subsidiaries are trying to expand their flood insurance offerings beyond Florida. HCI has filed with regulators to offer flood coverage in Arkansas, California, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Texas.

    Tampa-based HCI Group is trying to expand its flood insurance offerings to other states. Pictured is Paresh Patel, CEO of HCI Group. | [Courtesy of HCI Group]
  4. Home of Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman hits market at $3.45 million

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — The Davis Islands home of Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman is back on the market for $3.45 million after a brief hiatus.

    The Davis Islands home of Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman is on the market for $3.45 million. [Courtesy of Hi Res Media]
  5. Trigaux: Halfway through 2017, a closer look at six drivers of the Tampa Bay economy


    We're nearly halfway through 2017 already, a perfect time to step back from the daily grind of business and ask: How's Tampa Bay's economy doing?

    Is there one theme or idea that captures the Tampa Bay brand? Not really but here's one possibility. The fun-loving annual Gasparilla "Invasion" of Tampa is captured in this photo of 
The Jose Gasparilla loaded with pirates of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla on its way this past January to the Tampa Convention Center. In the future a vibrant downtown Tampa or St. Petersburg may be the better theme. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]