HealthSpring set to add thousands to Medicare rolls

Company expects to add jobs in Tennessee, region reaching from Texas to New Jersey

HealthSpring will in 2013 expand its Medicare offerings in another 37 counties across a region that stretches from Texas to New Jersey, but mostly — 30 counties to be exact — in the Volunteer State.

“This is all part of our corporate growth strategy, although this year’s county expansion was quite a bit more than last year,” said Graham Harrison of HealthSpring, which has been owned by Cigna since early this year.

Beyond greater coverage for seniors, the good news for other folks in Tennessee, Texas, Alabama, Florida, New Jersey and West Virginia is jobs. And if last year is any barometer — when HealthSpring hired on average one person every day from August to May — the jobs outlook in the selected counties in these states is, if nothing else, brighter than it otherwise would have been.

“The jobs aspect of this expansion is absolutely part of what this is all about,” Harrison said, adding that, although the exact number of jobs isn’t known, the news is still positive, especially for the 30 Tennessee counties.

Beginning today and running through Dec. 7, HealthSpring customers can enroll in the 2013 plans. HealthSpring’s expansion has been approved by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services officials, meaning company execs convinced the regulators that a sufficient number of contracts with hospitals and doctors are in place to properly serve the counties' populations.

It isn’t clear how many Medicare beneficiaries will be added to the HealthSpring rolls because of this multi-county expansion. But, as 10,000 folks become Medicare eligible every day, it’s safe to say thousands will more than likely become HealthSpring customers as a result of this strategy. HealthSpring now has more than 1 million members on its rolls.