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UnitedHealth Expands Medicare Offerings in New Counties

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UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UNH - Free Report) has announced to offer more than 100 new Medicare plans as it expands its offerings to reach an additional 1.2 million people in 100 new counties.

This expanded  product offering will enable 90% of people eligible for Medicare to choose UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage (MA) plans, nationwide in 2020.

UnitedHealthcare is also collaborating with Walgreens to introduce the new its AARP Medicare Advantage Walgreens plans.  The company is providing supplemental health benefits such as virtual visits, House Calls and Navigate4Me, a personal concierge support program.

UnitedHealth currently serves nearly 6 million people via its MA plans and holds  highest share of the MA market.

The MA enrollment is expected to grow from 46 million in 2019 to 72 million in 2025. MA has become the most attractive business for health insurers after the recent policy changes for Medicare Advantage and Part D programs by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). These policy changes include opportunities to offer broadened supplemental benefits packages and expanded telehealth services.

Supplemental benefits may include meal delivery, transportation for non-medical needs, pest control, indoor air quality equipment and services, benefits to address social needs, and structural improvements such as ramps or the widening of hallways.

In tandem with this, insurers are offering various benefits suited to the medical condition of the customers. These benefits are expected to increase competition between MA plan offerings.

Recently, many insurers have announced expansion of MA offerings for 2020. Humana Inc. (HUM - Free Report) announced health plan choices for Medicare beneficiaries in New Jersey by more than doubling the number of counties to 13, in which Humana Medicare Advantage plans are offered. Cigna Corp. (CI - Free Report) is expanding its Medicare Advantage (MA) plans across 17 states and 80 counties. Centene Corp. (CNC - Free Report) and Anthem have also made similar announcements.

In the first nine months of 2019, UnitedHealth’s stock was down 12.8%, almost matching the industry decline of 12%. For the current year, the company’s earnings are expected to grow 15.2% compared with the industry’s rally of 22.1%.

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