Managed Health Care's New Player Medical Pros Step in Market
Salzer, James, The Florida Times Union
ATLANTA -- Medical professionals in Georgia are winning approval
for new businesses that might help them win some of the booming
managed health care market -- hospital HMO-like corporations.
Georgia Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine has approved four
such provider corporations -- the latest in Savannah -- and is
looking to expand the idea into areas that have only in recent
years begun to get a taste of managed care.
Doctors and hospitals see it as an opportunity to run their
business without interference from insurers, who control the
health maintenance organizations.
"This way, we have some say so. There won't be drive-through
deliveries, drive-through mastectomies," said Sammie Dixon,
president of PartnersChoice Health Corporation, from his office
at Tift General Hospital in Tifton.
PartnersChoice was the first of four provider-sponsored health
care corporations to win Oxendine's approval in the past year.
The others are Evergreen Health Plan Inc., in Columbus; Secure
Choice Health Plan Inc. in Atlanta; and Memorial Medical
Center's ProHealth Inc. in Savannah.
Other hospitals are considering applying for a license to
operate the HMO-like businesses, but Oxendine wouldn't name any
The commissioner said the new corporations give Georgians,
particularly those living outside Atlanta, more choice in buying
"They [HMOs] had a monopoly before," Oxendine said. "Now they
have competition. Now you've got competition in managed care.
The consumer only benefits from that."
So, potentially, could taxpayers, because the hospital-based
programs might be able to put Medicaid and Medicare patients
they treat into their managed care plans, saving money.
Managed care companies, especially HMOs, have been growing
wildly in Georgia during the 1990s. About 1 million Georgians
now are enrolled in HMOs. Last year, Georgia's HMOs took in
$1.27 billion in revenue.
Most of the 1 million enrollees live in the Atlanta area, but
HMOs have rapidly expanded to other cities. …