The latest in the Universal Saga

Mar 24, 2007

  1. g1bass
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    via the St. Pete Times:

    [​IMG]
    Universal hangs on for a bit longer

    A judge grants it more time to come up with the millions to avoid liquidation.

    By KRIS HUNDLEY
    Published March 24, 2007
    Florida's top insurance regulator recommended liquidating Universal Health Care Insurance Co. in St. Petersburg on Friday evening after the Medicare insurer failed to meet a state-imposed deadline for shoring up its financial reserves by as much as $160-million.
    But the company, owned by Dr. Akshay Desai, said it intends to fight the action and insisted a judge's order gives it at least another month to resolve the issues.
    In a letter to Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty recommended the start of delinquency proceedings against Universal, which operates the Any, Any, Any Medicare plan with 80,000 members.
    Universal's other Medicare plans, including Medicare Masterpiece, are unaffected by the state's actions. That business, which has about 45,000 members, would continue operation.
    McCarty wrote that Universal's Any, Any, Any plan "has failed to increase its surplus level to the level necessary to comply with the Florida Insurance Code. And based on the information provided by the company, it is insolvent."
    Sink could not be reached for comment. A spokesman for the Office of Insurance Regulation said the matter is likely to go to Circuit Court in Tallahassee next week.
    Universal tried unsuccessfully to block the liquidation by asking a judge in Leon County to grant a temporary injunction. Though Circuit Judge Thomas H. Bateman III denied that motion, he allowed Universal to proceed with its demand that the state insurance department show cause why it should be liquidated.
    A Universal spokesman, Bob O'Malley, said the judge's ruling means the court will take over the issue.
    "We're fighting to be able to continue to offer benefits of the Any, Any, Any plans to senior citizens," O'Malley said. "But there will never be a gap in insurance coverage for any of our members, regardless of what happens."
    Medicare and state officials also stressed that medical coverage would never be disrupted. If the company is liquidated, Any, Any, Any plan members would be given the opportunity to enroll in other Medicare plans.
    O'Malley also denied that Universal has ever been in financial difficulty.
    "All the talk on the OIR's part about insolvency is improper because it is based on disputable calculations," he said. "We get $90-million per month from the federal government from which we pay claims. We're a financially stable and secure company."
    On Feb. 21, Universal's Desai signed a consent order with the state agreeing to be liquidated by 5:01 p.m. Friday if the company did not shore up its financial reserves. Sales of the company's Any, Any, Any plan in Florida and seven other states had vastly exceeded expectations.
    State officials estimated Universal needed as much as $180-million in reserves at the time to be in compliance. In the past month, with people disenrolling from the plan, that figure dropped to about $160-million.
    Universal's Any, Any, Any plan has had other obstacles, especially customer service problems. And many members who enrolled thinking they could visit any doctor or hospital have complained that their providers refused to accept the plan.
    In a petition filed with the court Thursday, Universal's lawyers portrayed the OIR as a bully that used "improper pressure, intimidation, coercion and influence" to get Desai to sign the document. Universal's lawyers also maintained the company had a minimum of 60 days from the date of the Feb. 21 consent order to comply.
    The state's plans for receivership also scared off potential investors, the petition said, with Universal's business "destroyed, ruined, devalued and otherwise irreparably and imminently damaged."
    Despite Universal's claims of financial stability, its petition included a letter from the OIR to company officials dated March 9. In the letter, regulators noted that Universal's records showed the company had an estimated $19.1-million loss in 2006.
    An OIR spokesman said Universal's 400 employees at its headquarters in downtown St. Petersburg are unlikely to be affected immediately by the continuing uncertainty over the company's future.
    O'Malley, the Universal spokesman, put a brighter spin on things.
    "We told them to come back Monday," he said. "We'll be open for business as usual."
    Times staff writer Rebecca Catalanello contributed to this report. Kris Hundley can be reached at [email protected]">href="mailto:[email protected]" mce_href="mailto:[email protected]">[email protected] or (727) 892-2996.

    © 2007 • All Rights Reserved • St. Petersburg Times
    490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111
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    g1bass, Mar 24, 2007
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  2. Mike_Golden1
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    Wow, I hadn't seen this or heard about it until now. I signed about 8 people for this plan before deciding it wasn't worth my time plus I didn't like the lack of responsiveness at Universal. I'm really glad I didn't go any further with it.

    Is it true that anyone who switches to a Medicare Advantage plan from a paid supplement can automatically go back within 12 months?
     
  3. johnrocks
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    I think I am going to go to all of the people that I enrolled in Universal and beg for their forgiveness and get them back on a supplement. I think that these idiots have already cost me 2 of my clients I got a cancellation notice from GTL on their indemity and they won't return my phone calls. I really believe that when I get back out in the field that I am only going to sell med. supps unless they sign some sort of "I tolds ya so" form so that I can remind them of what was disclosed if they have any problems with their MA plans. This mess is really making me nervous.
     
  4. policy doctor
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    Medicare and state officials also stressed that medical coverage would never be disrupted. If the company is liquidated, Any, Any, Any plan members would be given the opportunity to enroll in other Medicare plans.


    Well it looks like we may have a special election period to re-enroll folks into another MA, or medicare supplement. So keep in touch with these clients, let them know what is going on, and that you will be there for them. Wonder how they will pay out the money owing to their agents?
    I also think regulators get too zealous (this is a political office after all) and want to carve out a name for themselves' instead of letting market forces play out. VERY interesting.
     
  5. g1bass
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    No one is going to lose coverage, I think it's ridiculous to say you are
    never going to write another MA/PD and only write medsups, you won't be doing a good job for your clients. I have written tons of Universal including people in my own family. I've told all of them that there may be a problem, they could switch now or wait for the official word to come from Tallahassee, every single one of them agreed to stick it out. They can go back to their medsups if they wish, now or during a limited special enrollment period when/and if Universal is liquidated,or they may join another MA/PD. Jeeso, enough with the hand wringing and teeth gnashing.

    As an agent I plan on staying on top of the situations with the state and remain accountable to my clients, so I can inform them of their options.
     
    g1bass, Mar 24, 2007
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  6. johnrocks
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    touche'
     
  7. Cenla Agent
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    Looks like Universal is a disaster for practically everyone involved and that Medicare members are better off with ANY ANY ANY other plan except this one.
     
  8. Cenla Agent
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    I certainly understand the nervousness. I am also certain that any "I told ya so" form would be a violation of CMS regulations since you cannot use any kind of sales material or form that is not approved by CMS.

    I would not sell for a MA carrier that does not have some kind of verification process where the conversation is recorded. That's a "I told ya so" that is probably as good or better than a signed form anyway. I understand Pyramid has one, but I don't know how detailed it is. Humana also has one, and it gets right down to the issues better this year than last year. I also use their Telephonic Signature enrollment process which is much better IMO than using paper since it is recorded, and the member is read all the disclosures on the call and they have to say "I agree" or "yes" to every one.
     
  9. johnrocks
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    You make a good point about needing CMS approval. I am not knowingly going to do anything that would jeopardize my career. I was merely trying to put my "sic" sense of humor on a very important subject. Hopefully noone will take my light hearted idea and implement it into their practice. Thanks for the "heads up".
     
  10. Bob_The_Insurance_Guy
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    I, too, see no reason to panic. I told everyone I enrolled in the Any, Any, Any Plan that, if for any reason they are not satisfied or comfortable, then we can move them into another plan. All my Any, Any, Any clients are 1st time MA Plan members, so they can move to another MA Plan without the worry of an enrollment period deadline.

    The reason I enrolled these 8 people into the plan was because they were healthy, did not take meds, or very little (mostly generic), and we called their physicians to verify they would accept the plan.

    It's no different than placing someone into an investment that, based on past performance, was stable and sound.

    That's why you sell more than just one company. That's why you are "cautiously optimistic" when something like this comes along.

    Concerned, yes. Panicked, no.

    So, fellow chicken little's, is the sky falling? Let's wait and see.

    This is where being properly trained and educated on all the products keeps you calm. I did not sell every prospect the Any, Any, Any Plan. It's not for everyone.

    I do know a gentleman who sold several hundred of them. In fact, during November through January, that is all he sold. He didn't sell Pyramid or Coventry until after January 1. I will see him in our weekly training session tomorrow morning. I'll let you know how upbeat he is.
     
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