UnitedHealth to buy two Florida health plans

MINNEAPOLIS – UnitedHealth Group Inc plans to buy two Florida health plans to increase its U.S. market-leading position in providing Medicare plans for the elderly.

The largest U.S. health insurer by market value is buying Preferred Care Partners and Medica HealthCare Plans, which operate in the central and southern regions of the state. Both companies are privately held, and UnitedHealth did not announce financial terms of the separate deals.

Miami-based Preferred Care serves about 50,000 Medicare Advantage members, as well as 5,000 members in Medicaid plans for low-income citizens. Preferred Care also operates six primary care centers.

Coral Gables-based Medica has about 35,000 Medicare Advantage members and 7,200 Medicaid beneficiaries, and runs two medical centers. UnitedHealth expects the deals to close later this year.

Health insurers have been seeking to boost their Medicare operations as the post-war baby boom generation becomes eligible for the government program, swelling its ranks.