Health insurer proposes plan for dual eligibles

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Enrolling those dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid in managed-care plans could save the United States up to $1.62 trillion over the next 25 years, according to health insurance giant UnitedHealth Group Inc.

In a report released Friday, UnitedHealth proposed combining the benefits of the Medicare and Medicaid plans into a single plan for the country's 9 million dual-eligible seniors, Bloomberg News reported. The “tangled web of responsibilities” for these patients results in medical providers billing separate programs for the different expenses each one covers. Also, no single agency is responsible for patient care or cost tracking, UnitedHealth noted.

A single health plan for this subset of patients, who are typically older and sicker than other Medicare or Medicaid beneficiaries, could eliminate inefficiencies, save money and better coordinate care, UnitedHealth argued. In 2009, before healthcare reform was passed, UnitedHealth boasted 1.8 million Medicare Advantage customers, and 2.9 million Medicaid managed care customers, Bloomberg reported.