The time is now for people who had Universal Healthcare to sign up for new Medicare Supplement Insurance or Medicare Advantage Plan. The Special Election Period (SEP) is almost over.

This past February (2013), Florida state regulators chose to put two subsidiaries of Universal Health Care Group Inc. into receivership as it was announced that the financially troubled company had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The future of the St. Petersburg, Florida-based health care corporation is clouded and uncertain due to continued financial struggles and state regulatory commission challenges. The shutdown will affect both employees and members alike in the state of Florida, but there is some speculation regarding those individuals in the states of Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina, and Texas as well.

As it currently stands, there are approximately 100,000 members (40,000 Medicare and 60,000 Medicaid) while there are roughly 37,500 Medicare policy holders covered by the Universal Health Care Insurance Company. Although the states of North Carolina and Texas both have HMO facilities, it is speculated that the receivership orders in Florida will not affect them. However, there is still a great deal of concern for members as some 900 seniors in the St. Pete area alone will be affected and will need to find another health care provider as a result of the bankruptcy filing.

In addition to the thousands of Universal Health Care members that will be impacted by the shutdown, hundreds of employees will also be out of a job and add to the current economic woes of the country. Interestingly enough, and despite this “doom and gloom” scenario, those members who are impacted by the Universal Health Care shutdown now have the opportunity to be covered by Medicare supplement insurance. Current Universal members are enrolled in Medicaid or Medicare as it is. However, they were assigned to original Medicare Part A & Part B if they had not chosen a new plan as of the April 1st deadline.

As it currently stands, the company is continuing to operate while negotiations with lenders continue and the proposed reorganization under Chapter 11. For now, this protects them from any lawsuits and/or collection efforts. Additionally, Universal Health Care has agreed to a merger with America’s 1st Choice for the Florida, Nevada, and Texas HMO’s as well as part of their Universal Health Care Insurance Company. According to several news articles, Universal will seek the bankruptcy court’s permission to continue with the sale of the company and have not yet consented to receivership. What is important is the fact that those members who feared the worst do have other options to consider.

CMS has granted these beneficiaries, along with other impacted Universal Health Care Inc. (HMO) and Universal Health Care Insurance Company Inc. (PFFS ) plan members a Special Election Period (SEP), to enroll into another plan of their choice. Valid effective dates for this SEP are March 1 – May 31, 2013. It is important that people impacted by this contact an independent agent quickly to make the deadline.