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Insurer to be new Medicare option

Published Sep. 4, 2005

About 133,000 Medicare beneficiaries in Pasco and Hernando will soon have one more Medicare supplement to choose from _ a startup insurer based in Holiday.

Quality Health Plans received approval from the Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to offer a managed care plan to Medicare beneficiaries in Pasco and Hernando, beginning Jan. 1.

Medicare recipients can sign up for the plan during open enrollment, which runs through Dec. 31.

This will add another option for residents in Pasco and Hernando who have seen health care options dwindle in recent years. In the two counties, United Healthcare and WellCare offer plans. Humana also offers a plan to Pasco residents.

Quality officials reached Thursday were not able to provide any information about coverage, rates or premiums that the company plans to offer.

Hernando County has struggled to keep Medicare HMO companies in the county. In 2000, two decided to pull out. But later that year, two different ones decided to step in.

The entry of Quality Health Plan could benefit the county, because it will improve some seniors' health care options, said Spring Hill-based Florida Citizens to Keep HMOs.

"It's absolutely a good thing," said Marie Nielsen, vice president of the grass roots group. "At least we have more of a choice."

However, she said she'd reserve final judgment of the HMO until she examines what Quality Health Plan intends to cover.

_ Times researcher Kitty Bennett contributed to this report.

Where to call

For information about Quality Healthcare, call: 1-866-747-2700. Information seminars will be today and Saturday, and Monday through Wednesday next week. The seminars will be at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.. In Pasco, the sessions will be at 2435 U.S. 19 in Holiday. In Hernando, they will be at 5359 Spring Hill Drive.