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WellCare Health Plans, Inc. (WCG - Snapshot Report) has been on an uptrend over a month, reflecting investors’ enthusiasm about its developments so far. The stock gained nearly 12.3% to close at $72.08 on Oct 3.

In its concerted effort to widen its Medicare Advantage service coverage, WellCare Health added eight new counties in the states of Arizona, California and Kentucky.  

The new counties are La Paz, Maricopa and Pima in Arizona; Fresno in California; and, Bullitt, Carroll, Gallatin and Owen in Kentucky.

Following the additions, WellCare expands its 2014 Medicare Advantage plans to 210 counties in 14 U.S. states. WellCare earlier stated that in 2014, it intends to serve Medicare eligibles in 210 counties, higher than the 2013 figure of 204. With the new additions, the company achieved its set target. When Medicare open enrolment begins on Oct 15, eligible customers can choose WellCare as their Medicare Advantage plan.

WellCare Health expects the new counties in Arizona and California to leverage two of its acquisitions closed in the final quarter of 2012. One is that of Easy Choice Health Plan in California. The second comprises the takeover of select assets of Arcadian Health Plan, Inc.'s Desert Canyon Community Care MA plans from Humana Inc. (HUM - Analyst Report). In addition, the dual eligible beneficiaries it serves in Kentucky's Medicaid program will provide cross-selling opportunities for Medicare.

Moreover, WellCare Health’s recent announcement to acquire Windsor Health Group Inc. from German insurer Munich Re AG will further strengthen its foothold in Medicare Advantage. Windsor Health presently offers Medicare Advantage plans in 297 counties primarily in the states of Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, and South Carolina.

WellCare offers its Medicare Advantage plans to more than 17 million Medicare-eligible residents. As of Jun 30, 2013, WellCare serves approximately 0.272 million Medicare Advantage members nationwide. With the aforesaid expansion, the tally is expected to scale new heights.

In a separate development, WellCare Health also announced the successful transition of the former UnitedHealthcare South Carolina Medicaid program. It closed the UnitedHealthcare`s South Carolina Medicaid acquisition on Feb 1, 2013.   As of June 30, 2013, WellCare of South Carolina serves nearly 51,000 Medicaid members in 39 counties, including the Columbia, Florence and Greenville metropolitan areas, through the South Carolina Healthy Connections Choices program.

Currently, WellCare Health carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).  Aetna Inc. (AET - Analyst Report) and Health Net, Inc. (HNT - Analyst Report) sharing the same Zacks Rank as WellCare Health, are also worth considering.

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