A health care company that bills itself as the nation’s largest devoted to “financially vulnerable” people expects it could double its more than 250,000 Florida enrollees as the Affordable Care Act enters a critical phase, a top executive told The Palm Beach Post today.
Amerigroup Florida, a subsidiary of Wellpoint Inc., employs 874 in Florida including 110 in Palm Beach County, its base for certain long term care programs.
If things unfold as expected, the company is prepared to expand to 1,300 employees statewide, said Rosy Cozad, CEO of Amerigroup Florida.
“We expect to grow significantly in Florida,” Cozad said from a company office in Boca Raton. As for enrollees, she said, “we’re expecting we could double in size.”
Amerigroup, founded in 1994, intially targeted health problems of mothers and children enrolled in Medicaid. Medicaid mothers and babies still acount for more than 70 percent of its membership, but it has grown to serve others including seniors and people with disabilities. A significant focus: Managed care programs designed to help governments control costs by working to see that enrollees avoid unnecessary sickness, maintain independence and stay healthier.
Under one program, the company tries to avoid expensive nursing-home care for patients by providing assistance in their homes.
Amerigroup grew to become ranked No. 385 on the Fortune 500 list. Last year it was acquired by Wellpoint, the second largest publicly-traded insurance company in the country.
Now Amerigroup is poised to play a big role as Florida and other states set up insurance exchanges and otherwise prepare a rollout of key provisions of the Affordable Care Act at the start of 2014. The law is designed to provide health insurance to almost everyone, whether through employer-based and other private plans or government programs like Medicaid. The company aims to be ready for what’s coming, including a projected $908 billion in Medicaid spending by 2020.
Cozad has three decades of experience in managed care, according to biographical material provided by the company. Within the last five years, she served as board chair of the Alliance for Aging for Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties and chair of the Medicaid committee for the Florida Association of Health Plans. Amerigroup has 2.7 million members in 13 states.
For her, a big question about the Affordable Care Act only becomes more important in a pivotal year for its implementation: “As more people become insured, are we really going to reduce costs while improving quality?” she said. “Both things have to happen.”