Private insurers are reaping a veritable windfall from the federal government’s heavy spending on the elderly — with demand from the COVID-19 pandemic leading to more robust offerings.

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Following a trend that has been growing in the past few years, both Cigna (CI) and United Health Group (UNH) announced expansions of their Medicare Advantage plans for 2021 — with Cigna expanding in 67 counties and UnitedHealth expanding in 300 counties.

In addition, Walmart (WMT) has joined in with its own insurance education services, in order to help seniors sign up for Medicare plans.

The two health insurance giants are expanding in an increasingly competitive market, dominated by players like Humana (HUM) and Centene (CNC). They are also seeing a swell of startups including Clover Health, Oscar and Bright Health.

According to Brian Evanko, Cigna’s president of Government Business, insurers are faced with a convergence of factors that include

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  • The Social Capital SPAC led by billionaire Chamath Palihapitiya is acquiring Clover Health in a $3.7 billion deal that’ll take the health insurance company public. 
  • In 2021, Palihapitiya projects the company will grow its membership roughly five times what it was this year.
  • Clover Health president and chief technology officer Andrew Toy said that projected growth largely comes from the potential participation in a new Medicare program that’s yet to be finalized. 
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Social Capital’s Chamath Palihapitiya is looking to acquire the health insurance company Clover Health via a SPAC. 

The special-purpose acquisition company Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings Corp. III will merge with Clover in a $3.7 billion transaction that’s slated to close in 2021, the companies said in a statement.

Clover offers private health-insurance plans for seniors, a product called Medicare Advantage. Competition is fierce for

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Walmart is entering the health insurance business, just in time for those signing up for Medicare open enrollment this fall.

The Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer announced Tuesday the opening of Walmart Insurance Services to “assist people with enrolling in insurance plans—and simplify what’s historically been a cumbersome, confusing process.”

“We want customers to feel confident in selecting a Medicare plan that best fits their needs, budget, and lifestyle,” David Sullivan, general manager of Walmart Insurance Services, said in a statement. “And we want to be a trusted partner on their health care journey.”

WALMART TO TEST DRONE DELIVERY OF COVID-19 TEST KITS

Walmart Insurance Services, a licensed insurance brokerage, will begin selling Medicare insurance plans during this year’s Annual Enrollment

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Medicare Advantage company brings Alignment Health Plan to North Carolina in 2021, expanding services to Chatham, Johnston counties

Alignment Healthcare, an award-winning Medicare Advantage company that has served the greater Raleigh area since 2014, is offering Alignment Health Plan options with socially conscious benefits for the first time to seniors in North Carolina this Medicare open enrollment period starting Oct. 15 through Dec. 7. The company, which now provides medical and managed care services to patients at Alignment Healthcare Centers in Wake County, will offer three Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plans – all of which include Alignment’s ACCESS On-Demand Concierge program and black benefits card – with coverage starting Jan. 1, 2021.

North Carolina has become a popular retirement destination for seniors. By 2025, one in five residents in North Carolina will be 65 or older, and in the next two decades, seniors aged 75-84 will be the fastest-growing segment

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  • Trump’s legally dubious pledge to send out $200 cards to Medicare beneficiaries could leave out 13 million low-income Americans receiving federal aid within the program.
  • The “Extra Help” program within Medicare provides poor Americans with subsidies that can be used towards prescription drug copays and premiums.
  • The administration appears to be focusing on aiding seniors that are not already getting federal aid.
  • “It doesn’t mean they’re having an easier time affording their medication,” healthcare expert Juliette Cubanski said of people enrolled in Extra Help.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump vowed on Thursday to send $200 drug discount cards to 33 million Medicare beneficiaries in a legally dubious gambit aimed at strengthening his political support among seniors.

But that could exclude 13 million low-income Americans enrolled in the program who are receiving federal subsidies to better afford their prescription medications.

During an event in North Carolina,

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WASHINGTON — Private consultants to the federal official who oversees Medicare billed taxpayers almost $6 million in less than two years to bolster her personal image, including efforts to win awards, place her on lists of powerful women and arrange meetings with influential people, a report by congressional Democrats said Thursday.

The consultants, many with Republican Party ties, billed taxpayers up to $380 per hour on work largely aimed at polishing the profile of Medicare administrator Seema Verma, the investigators wrote.

One contractor, Pam Stevens, who’s done extensive work for the GOP, charged up to $330 hourly to pursue ideas like asking publications including “Oprah Magazine” and “Garden and Gun” to write articles about Verma. Stevens also seemed to bill at least $1,117 to arrange an interview that resulted in a Verma profile in AARP The Magazine, the report said.

The contractors were “handpicked” by Verma’s aides, the report said,

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