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! 18A THE PALM BEACH POST FRIDAY, DECEMBER 5, 1997 Despite dropout rate, HMOs continue to grow rapidly Medicare HMO dropout rates The Families USA Foundation compiled voluntary dropout rates for Medicare HMO plans with at least 1,000 members. Figures below are for plans available in South Florida in 1996. Plan name Average rate (percent) PCA Miami 46.7 Foundation Health 38.7 HIP (South Florida) 38.2 Neighborhood Health (South Florida) 26.4 Humana 21.3 Prudential South Florida 20.8 United Healthcare (South Florida) 18.8 Av-Med.Health Miami 1 4.8 . Florida average 25.3 National average 13 Plan merged with Humana in September. SOURCE: Families USA Foundation bers with a constant stream of billboards, mailings and telemarketers, 35 percent of Medicare recipients are in an HMO. Pollack said he's especially concerned about plans that have high rates of members leaving within three months of signing up. That, he said, could signal HMO marketing abuses or outright deception. At HIP Health Plan in South Florida, more than half the members who quit the Medicare HMO left within three months of joining, the study said. "Obviously, we have not met their expectations," said Dr. Mark Bloom, HIP's medical director. He couldn't explain why HIP's dropout rate exceeds that of its Medicare HMOs are a relatively new insurance option. The federal government approved the first HMOs to cover Medicare recipients in the mid-1980s as a way to control skyrocketing Medicare costs. Nationwide, the health plans have enjoyed explosive growth, with about 14 percent of Medicare's 37 million beneficiaries now enrolled in an HMO. South Florida has been a sort of promised land for the HMO industry because of the region's vast number of retirees and its rich Medicare payment rates. HMOs in Dade County, for instance, get the second-highest reimbursement per member of any county in the country. Despite seniors' uneasiness about IIMOs limiting which doc tors they can visit, they've swarmed to HMOs largely to save money. In Florida, Medicare HMOs have no premiums, deductibles or co-payments, letting individuals drop their costly Medicare supplement policies. Seniors also have been attracted to HMOs because of benefits such as prescription drugs and hearing aids not covered by traditional Medicare. Even those Medicare recipients unsure about managed care have been swayed to HMOs because they have the ability to drop or switch plans every month. But that's changing. Beginning in 2002, Medicare HMO members will be allowed to change plans just once a year after a three-month trial period. MEDICARE From 1A Corporation of America had the highest dropout rate in 1996 at 46.7 percent. Humana, Florida's largest Medicare HMO, acquired PCA in September. Humana had a 20 percent quit rate, according to the study. . Humana spokesman Tom No-land blamed PCA's loss of members on the company's well-publicized financial difficulties along with a change in networks that forced some members to switch doctors. Despite the high dropout rates, Medicare HMOs continue to enjoy rapid growth because they enroll more new members than they lose. Today, about 25 percent of the 2.7 million Medi if ; lJJt L'lJULULfeXAMWJUJJU LUU ' ! 0 3 -.V i'-'i fV2 L'Wj. Xm r f. -'.J f 1 care recipients in Florida get their health care through an HMO. In Palm Beach County, where Medicare HMOs battle for mem- U.S. seeking quick payment for survivors The New York Times LONDON At the close of the first major international conference on the Nazi gold affair, the United States sought Thursday to increase pressure for having compensation paid to hundreds of thousands of aging Holocaust survivors during the next two years. I "We must not enter a new century without completing the unfinished business of this century," Stuart Eizenstat, the leading American negotiator, told reporters after urging a deadline of Dec. 31, 1999, to complete inquiries and pay compensation, "This is a biological problem," he said, referring to Holocaust survivors, many of whom are in their 70s and 80s. "We must not allow this to degenerate into a biological solution." ' The remarks were intended to build a sense of urgency after 18 months of scrutiny that has spread from disclosures about Switzerland's role as banker to the Third Reich, to dark wartime deeds in neutral and occupied lands. ; The focus now is likely to shift 1 f I teWpS: s$3$ WftKt fiTEDfc ) JLtewaC A to New York. There, according to an American official who spoke in return for anonymity, Swiss banks facing class-action suits from Ho locaust survivors and their heirs are likely to come under pressure 30 150 300 MINUTES MINUTES MINUTES $24" $39" $49" 500 1000 1800 MINUTES MINUTES MINUTES $6999 $9999 $ 149" Gifts! o Waived activation ($25 value) -s itr m m a st 0z -m c a Sign up for Unlimited Nights ond Weekends colling for $4.95 per month and get your first 3 months free to reach a settlement soon. ; On Monday, moreover, American municipal and state financial officials are to meet in New York to discuss whether to continue punitive action against some Swiss banks. : At the conference here, 240 delegates from 41 countries agreed to meet again at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington next spring or summer for what the United States sees as broader inquiries dealing with stolen real estate, securities, bonds, insurance policies and works of art. " Eizenstat also promised a new government inquiry into "Holocaust-era assets" in the United States to establish whether, as has been reported, the now-defunct Federal Assay Office smelted looted gold belonging to individuals and handed it to" European central banks in 1952. ; The point of the widening inquiries is to maintain pressure for compensation to those known as double victims people who survived Nazism only to live for decades under communist rule. J Historical assessments at the conference depicted not just the Nazi pillage of Europe, but also a tangled post-war history in which the claims of Holocaust survivors for the return of assets were either ignored or subsumed in Cold War politics. Prince meets pauper again The Associated Press I LONDON On a visit with the down-and-out, Prince Charles was taken aback Thursday as he encountered a homeless man who told him they once attended the same exclusive prep school. ! "It just shows you, doesn't it?" the prince mused after the encounter with Clive Harold at the offices of Big Issue, a magazine sold by the homeless. 1 Harold turned to Charles during a tour of the magazine's offices and asked: "Do you realize we were at school together?" ! "No!" the prince replied in wonder. When told it was London's Hill House School 40 years ago, Charles leaned toward Harold and, smiling broadly, reminisced about the sweets the headmistress used to dole out. i Harold, 49, said his father had been a millionaire financier and he hjmself went on to become a successful author. But then, his second nrriage fell ajftrt 10 years ago and he turned to alcohol. Give the gift of AT&T Digital PCS. Because only AT&T offers one rate for the whole state, and the largest digital wireless network in Florida and North America. How's that for a stocking stuffer? AT&T Wireless Services I800-1MAGINF It's all within your reach. 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