Unicare to Exit Group, Individual Healthcare Market in Illinois, Texas

November 17, 2009

Healthcare provider UniCare will effectively no longer be providing healthcare coverage to commercial groups and individuals in Illinois and Texas as of the end of the year.

UniCare’s parent company, Wellpoint Inc., noted in its Oct. 28 report on financial results for the third quarter 2009 that “UniCare has entered into an agreement with Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC), which operates as the Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) licensee in Illinois and Texas, under which HCSC will, upon completion of receipt of regulatory approvals, offer guaranteed replacement coverage to these commercial group and individual members.”

It expects most of its insureds in those states will transition to HCSC by Dec. 31, 2009. “For those members who elect not to accept HCSC’s offer of replacement coverage, UniCare will continue to provide coverage until their current policies terminate according to their terms,” Wellpoint reported.

According to information from the Texas and Illinois insurance, UniCare insureds have until Dec. 1, 2009, to file the appropriate paperwork for switching to HCSC/BCBS. New coverage will be effective January 1, 2010.

The Illinois DOI stressed that insureds are not required to switch to BCBS and that coverage under Unicare will continue until the policy expires, even if the expiration date is after Dec. 31.

“Individual and group policyholders have the option to remain with Unicare until their coverage renewal date,” the department’s notice stated. “If a policyholder has a coverage renewal date prior to April 27, 2010, he or she may renew coverage and remain with Unicare until the next renewal or anniversary date in 2011.

UniCare has around 180,000 policyholders in Texas and another 180,000 in Illinois, according to the respective insurance departments.

Sources: Illinois Department of Insurance, Texas Department of Insurance, Wellpoint Inc.

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