Zing Health, a physician-led Medicare Advantage HMO plan launched last year, recently announced plans to expand its services to 12 new counties, tripling its geographic coverage. Zing’s expansion remains true to its mission to provide diverse seniors in the Midwest affordable, personalized health care built around community and member outcomes.
“We are moving beyond Cook County, where we’ve already made a tremendous difference, to six additional counties in Illinois, three in Indiana and three in Michigan,” said Zing Health CEO Eric E. Whitaker, MD. “We were in stealth mode when we came out of the gate last fall, but there’s been a great deal of support for our Medicare Advantage plan from the community. So we decided the time was right to expand and continue making a difference for diverse populations with our community-based, personalized healthcare options.”
This expansion comes just in time for the Annual Enrollment Period, which runs from Oct. 15-Dec. 7. Included counties are Will, Kane, Winnebago, McHenry, Ogle and Boone in Illinois; Allen, Lake and Marion in Indiana; and Wayne, Oakland and Genesee in Michigan.
In 2021, Zing Health will expand its Medicare Advantage plan offerings beyond its one traditional HMO offering in 2020 with a Point of Service HMO (POS-HMO) and a Chronic Special Needs HMO plan (C-SNP). Also, Zing is licensed to provide Employer Group Waiver Plan (EGWP) options in 2021 to select retiree groups.
Supporting Affordable, Efficient and Superior Health Care
Unlike a health insurance system that is often complicated to navigate and access, especially for underserved populations living in compromised socioeconomic conditions, Zing Health’s care model is designed to make it easy for members to access the services they need.
Medicare Advantage offers a suite of comprehensive services that provides members additional value and access to holistic care. These include dental, vision, hearing, fitness programs and more—benefits that people with original Medicare must pay for out-of-pocket unless they have a supplemental plan. This can create health disparities and inequalities in healthcare among minority members.
“We are physician-founded and have done this in partnership with Health 2047—the innovation subsidiary of the American Medical Association,” Whitaker said. “We understand the pain points that healthcare providers face when dealing with traditional health insurers. In Zing Health, doctors who are normally subject to health insurers have found a plan that puts the member and the physician back into the center of the healthcare equation.”
Focusing on the Social Determinants of Health
Zing Health is targeting diverse populations, which proved very successful in Cook County during its first year of business. Of the approximate 5.1 million residents in Illinois’ most populous county, 41.9% are African American and 24% are Hispanic.
A focus on the social determinants of health inform Zing Health’s tech-enabled community-based approach to care. Its impact teams go out into the community to help its members maintain and improve their health, while Spanish-speaking call center staff and internal sales agents make signing up seamless.
Zing Health’s Medicare Advantage plan has been well-received by its Cook County constituents—especially underserved members who have been guided through the entire process.
“We’ve tried to mitigate the barriers and access to care in Zing Health’s plan, and provide members with a zero-cost share up to the maximum amount the benefit offers,” said Saadia Selvie, Zing Health’s vice president of sales and marketing. “We’ve received a tremendous positive response from the providers and community leaders in Illinois. They’ve been impressed with our leadership team and the understanding we possess of the communities we serve.”
“Zing Health understands how social determinants impact health, especially in diverse neighborhoods,” said Mike Pykosz, CEO of Oak Street Health, a network of primary care providers with centers in nine states. “They talked with our patients to understand their pain points—such as rising costs for insulin—and then took those issues into consideration, and helped make those pain points less intrusive when dealing with a Medicare Advantage plan.”
Zing Health understands that to make a difference in this world, it needs to consider all the economic and social conditions that influence individual and group differences in health status.
“We build systems that hold us accountable, speed up claim payment and reimbursement, provide fast and accurate responses to questions and offer speedy reevaluation of denied claims to drive better patient outcomes economically,” Whitaker said. “Whereas a lot of insurance companies run away from diverse populations, we’re running towards them. We want to give our experience, expertise and care to vulnerable populations.”