NASHVILLE, Tenn., March 17 HealthLeaders-InterStudy, aleading provider of managed care market intelligence, reports that populationgrowth in several smaller Florida markets is creating opportunity for localand national health plans. According to the latest Florida Health PlanAnalysis, Aetna and Humana, along with the dominant Blue Cross and Blue Shieldof Florida, have developed strategies to capitalize on the population growthin these up-and-coming markets.
According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, five of the nation's 15fastest-growing metropolitan areas (by percentage increase) were in Floridaand include Palm Coast, the fastest-growing MSA in the country, Ocala, PortSt. Lucie-Fort Pierce, Cape Coral and Naples.
"As the default insurer for the state, Blue Cross and Blue Shield ofFlorida is well positioned to absorb these new residents and continue todominate most of the markets," states Roy Moore, market analyst forHealthLeaders-InterStudy and author of the report. "However, the nationalinsurers are making these smaller communities far more competitive."
Aetna has poured resources into physician recruitment and networkdevelopment along Palm Coast. Much of the employment growth in this area is inretail such as restaurant workers and hotel workers who are ideal candidatesfor Aetna's limited benefits plan. Expansions have also taken place in Ocala,and Aetna obtained an HMO license for the Tallahassee market where it believesit can enroll covered lives in the college town.
On the individual-product side, Humana reduced its rates by 10 percent to15 percent in the Port St. Lucie-Fort Pierce area. After lowering costs,Humana saw about a 10 percent jump in business. Humana is also targetingsouthwest Florida were there is a significant and increasing base of nationalemployers such as Tropicana, Siemens and Gevity with large workforces. Thepopulation base is also affluent and includes a sizable group of top corporatedecision makers who have set up second or seasonal homes.
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