The health insurance company, which serves 65,000 Medicaid recipients in South Carolina, intends to keep its commercial and Medicare business in the state as it divests the Medicaid operations to Florida-based WellCare Health Plans.
Published Oct. 31, 2012
UnitedHealth Group is selling its South Carolina Medicaid operations to a Florida insurance company that specializes in Medicare and Medicaid services for 2.6 million people across the U.S.
The sale to WellCare Health Plans Inc. is expected to close by the end of the year, pending regulatory approval, the companies said in a news release.
Service to UnitedHealthcare’s 65,000 Medicaid members in South Carolina is expected to continue without interruption during the transition, the company said. UnitedHealthcare’s Medicaid operations cover individuals in 39 counties in the state. Their network includes more than 30 hospitals, 1,800 primary care physicians and 2,000 specialists.
“This acquisition offers us a promising growth opportunity in the attractive South Carolina government programs market, and is well-aligned with our multiproduct strategy,” said WellCare CEO Alec Cunningham. “We believe the state is making policy changes that should improve the Medicaid program for managed care plans, and offer the potential for increased membership.”
Tony Keck, director of the S.C. Health and Human Services Department, has said his office is working on improving health conditions across the state and is targeting hot spots that increase costs to the entire system — including premature births, obesity, hypertension and substance abuse. Health and Human Services manages Medicaid for the state.
Keck also said the state has no plans to expand Medicaid eligibility. When the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act, it did so with the stipulation that mandatory Medicaid expansion was not to be allowed.
UnitedHealthcare isn’t leaving South Carolina completely. The company plans to continue serving more than 255,000 members enrolled in commercial health plans as well as more than 75,000 enrolled in Medicare in the state.