_ named as top insurance growth market
APRIL 27, 2012 - UnitedHealthOne released the results of a comparative study of the nation's individual health insurance markets. Hattiesburg, Mississippi was named as the #5 growth market for individual health insurance. The study compares the portion of individuals in the local area who have health insurance policies compares to the relative competitiveness of UnitedHealthcare policies within a zip code. The results in the 40 states where UnitedHealthOne offers coverage were compared to assemble a "top 20 list" of most underserved communities. In other words, there appear to be relatively few individuals who buy their own insurance in Hattiesburg who recognize that UnitedHealthOne is more affordable or a better deal than their other available options. UnitedHealthcare is the nation's largest health insurance company and UnitedHealthOne is the division that issues individual health insurance policies to individuals and families.
Underserved markets identified by the UnitedHealthcare survey are generally attributable to a lack of local insurance agents. While consumers generally trending toward online enrollment services and health insurance exchanges, online enrollment services like UHCenrollment.com and FreedomBenefits.net have limited ability to "get the word out" within local communities. "We specialize in providing excellent support once people actually find us", says Tony Novak of Freedom Benefits. "We don't have a budget to advertise various health insurance plans within specific communities". Freedom Benefits relies primarily on searches and research by online shoppers to find its resources. Part of the reason for reduced marketing and agents is the implementation of the 2010 Affordable Care Act that reduced the compensation of health insurance agents by an average of about 40%. Most agents are struggling just to stay in business and few can afford to advertise. The Affordable Care Act allocates millions of dollars of public funds marketing funds for new health insurance exchanges beginning in 2014. Until then, companies expect little marketing of individual health insurance plans. The new internal report by UnitedHealthcare was presumably intended to allow the company and its agents to focus limited marketing resources on the communities where marketing efforts will have the greatest impact. Over the long term consumers tend to move toward the best insurance values with or without agent marketing efforts so the Hattiesburg, Mississippi area is predicted to be a top growth area for the products based solely on the competitive pricing data.
UnitedHealthOne offers three lines of individual health insurance in Mississippi plus two lines of short term medical insurance. Regular individual insurance includes a traditional co-pay plan, a Health Savings Account plan and a Plan 100 that provides catastrophic coverage. The short term plans include a "plus" plan and a lower cost "value" plan. Details, rates and secure online enrollment are available on the company's Web site.
The National Committee on Quality Assurance Health Plan Report Card for 2011-2102 awards UnitedHealthcare a "commendable" rating in Mississippi. A summary of the report indicates that UnitedHealthcare was awarded 4 stars (out of 4 star rating system) for access and service and 3 stars (out of a 4 star rating system) for quality of providers, staying healthy, getting better and living with illness. UnitedHealthOne is generally recognized as one of the most innovative providers of individual health insurance with its chronic illness cost management programs and a vanishing deductible credit for long term policyholders.
Other communities in the UnitedHealthcare top 20 growth market list include Gulfport, Mississippi, at #13 on the list.
Keywords: individual health insurance, Hattiesburg, Mississippi, UnitedHealthcare
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