Blue Shield of California has entered into an agreement to acquire Bakersfield-based GemCare Health Plan, which operates as Physicians Choice Health Plan in the Tri-Counties, the company announced Tuesday.
GemCare is active in the commercial and Medicare markets in Kern County and in Ventura, North Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. With the planned acquisition, Blue Shield will add Medicare members in these counties, with the exclusion of Ventura, for the first time.
Blue Shield said in a statement that current GemCare members will experience minimal changes. Medicare business will remain with current contracts and commercial members will retain coverage at current premiums until their next renewal date, the company said.
The agreement is subject to the approval of the California Department of Managed Health Care.
GemCare is owned by physicians of GemCare IPA and Dignity Health, which operates several hospitals in the tri-county region. The plan has 8,000 Medicare members and more than 12,000 commercial members in the four counties in which it operates.