UnitedHealthcare begins Medicaid coverage for extra patients

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- More than 200,000 people enrolled in Iowa's privatized Medicaid program have been formally switched to new coverage following the abrupt exit of an insurance company.

UnitedHealthcare took over coverage Friday for affected patients, after AmeriHealth Caritas effectively withdrew Thursday from Iowa's health care system for the poor and disabled.

AmeriHealth Caritas announced Oct. 31 it would drop coverage because of failed contract negotiations with Iowa over money.

The state has signed new contracts with UnitedHealthcare and another company, Amerigroup. But Amerigroup said it doesn't have capacity to take new patients, requiring most AmeriHealth Caritas patients to be switched to UnitedHealthcare.

It's unclear when patients will have choice again. UnitedHealthcare plans to hire about 400 employees to respond to the addition.

Iowa's roughly $4 billion program serves more than 600,000 people.

Read the original version of this article at www.kcrg.com.