Optima Health Marks First Year in Richmond and Central Virginia
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Optima Health Marks First Year in Richmond and Central Virginia 

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RICHMOND, Va - (Dec. 9, 2005) - Optima Health, the 330,000 member Virginia-based health plan, marked its first year in Richmond with a December 7th open house attended by brokers, physicians, office managers, hospital executives, business owners and the local president of the Urban League.

"We've been warmly received in the Richmond-area marketplace," says Richard Hogue, regional director of operations for Optima Health. We think Optima products offer a clear alternative to the dominant plans.

Optima's products include a full range of HMO, PPO and POS plans for large and small employer groups, including FourSight, a consumer choice PPO which offers small to medium-sized businesses an entry into health care benefits for their employees. Optima also offers the Medicare Preferred PPO and Optima Family Care, a Medicaid HMO.

As of mid-December, about 80% of Richmond-area physicians now accept Optima plans. Participating hospitals include MCV Hospitals of the VCU Health System and all Bon Secours facilities, including the new St. Francis Hospital in South Richmond, plus Southside Regional Hospital in Petersburg.

"Our network is tighter than some other plans," admits Richard Hogue, "but that helps us hold down costs. Were a not-for-profit plan that offers members more for their money, because in our experience, six out of ten members never need a hospital."

Optima's focus is on keeping well. The plan offers award winning disease management programs such as:

The LifeCoach Diabetes and Partners in Pregnancy programs, both of which have won national peer recognition from the Disease Management Association of America.
Optimas Asthma management program, which won an award from the Environmental Protection Agency for eliminating asthma triggers in patients homes.
Optima offers at-home Congestive Heart Failure management.
Optimas Medical Care Management personnel are Richmond-based and familiar with Richmond-area medical services.

Optima offers more than just health coverage, says Michael M. Dudley, president of OptimaHealth, "We offer health care coordination, which is an added value for our members.

For instance, the Medicare Preferred PPO offers each member a personal service representative to help navigate benefits and answer questions.

Third-party ratings agencies give Optima high marks

Optima is the first health plan in Virginia to achieve and maintain an A+ from the respected Weiss Agency, which rates health plans for consumers based on financial strength, business practices and ability to cover claims.
Optima Health is a seven-year winner of Excellent or highest possible rating from the National Center for Quality Assurance (NCQA).
Optima Family Care, a Medicaid HMO, has received Excellent rating from NCQA for six consecutive years.

Optima Health signs new, expanded employer groups

In its first year in Richmond, Optima Health has grown existing relationships with major employers and will expand in January of 2006 as a health plan option for 6,000 Wal-Mart associates in the Richmond-Petersburg area, plus 6,000 federal employees.

New groups offering Optima include the King and Queen County Schools and Haley Automotive, with 400 employees.

Westward, northward growth anticipated
Optima Health will soon expand into Caroline, Louisa and Hanover counties. Additional plans call for entry into Lynchburg with all products in 2006 and Winchester with Optima Family Care in 2006.

We think we have a winning formula for Virginia, says Optimas Richard Hogue. We offer affordable health plans with a wealth of disease management and prevention programs to keep our members healthy, and we think thats a great value.

Interviews available
To speak with Optima regional director Richard Hogue contact Sentara Healthcare public relations consultant Dale Gauding at (757) 455-7118. Learn more about Optima Health Plans at  www.optimahealth.com. 



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