Longtime insurer Mutual of Omaha on July 17 said it is preparing to launch the first of its Medicare Advantage products in the greater Cincinnati area. Mutual of Omaha has been working with strategic partner Lumeris, Inc. to identify potential market entry points and value-based partners and says it has applied to offer MA plans next year in at least one other service area.

Mutual of Omaha earlier this year said it would begin offering MA plans with prescription drug coverage in selected markets in 2019, pending CMS approvals, and that the partners will create MA plans across the country under the Mutual of Omaha name. In Cincinnati, two local health care systems — TriHealth and St. Elizabeth Healthcare — will serve as the insurer’s value-based partners and comprise the bulk of the network.

While both TriHealth and St. Elizabeth Healthcare have their own internal systems and data analytics platforms, Lumeris will bring in some of its own expertise and resources in order to better identify at-risk populations and engagement strategies for those patients, explains Randall Curnow, M.D., medical director for population health at TriHealth.

According to Amber Rinehart, senior vice president of senior health solutions at Mutual of Omaha, the insurer selected Cincinnati because it is a “good-sized market and growing.” According to CMS data, roughly 40% of Medicare-eligible consumers are enrolled in MA plans in Hamilton County, Ohio, and have one of 14 plans to choose from, with Humana Inc. leading in market share. Adding to the potential competition is Bright Health, an MA startup that on July 18 said it planned to enter the Ohio market next year and has partnered with Mercy Health, the largest health system in the state.