Preferred Care in Rochester to change name to MVP

MVP Health Care prefers that its Rochester operation no longer go by the name Preferred Care.

MVP Health Care prefers that its Rochester operation no longer go by the name Preferred Care.

The Schenectady health insurer announced Wednesday that Preferred, which merged with MVP in January 2006, will adopt the name of its parent company in May 2009. Insurance officials said it is no longer practical or prudent for the two entities to operate under separate monikers.

“We’ve made significant progress during these two and a half years, and for a number of practical business reasons, now it’s time to come together under one name,” said MVP President and Chief Executive Officer Dr. David Oliker.

MVP initially relied on Preferred’s reputation and expertise in the government health plan arena to launch its own Medicare product. Its Medicare Advantage HMO product called MVP Gold started covering senior members last year. The name change will position MVP to expand into the Buffalo region with possibly Medicare and commercial products, MVP spokesman Gary Hughes said.

“We’re seeing the need more and more to go out to the public with one name,” Hughes said.

By combining Preferred’s coverage area of nine central New York counties with MVP’s 42 upstate counties plus Vermont and New Hampshire, the Rochester insurer also strengthened its offerings. Aided also by a provider network sharing deal with CIGNA Healthcare, Preferred in October won a contract to be the sole provider of health care benefits for Eastman Kodak Co.

Oliker said a single-named health insurance company is needed to “leverage our strengths, develop the new products our customers need and reduce complexity” for customers. By March, MVP had 700,000 members, up 3.6 percent from a year earlier.

MVP said Preferred’s work force in Rochester has grown by 70 since the completion of the merger.

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