The $50 million-a-year charity that provides a home to actors in their old age has started an HMO in California.
The Motion Picture and Television Fund set up the HMO last week. MCA-Universal became the first studio to offer it as a benefit option and has signed up more than 150 workers.
"This was something our market has been asking us to provide-access to our exclusive network via the HMO model," said Frank Guarrera, the fund's executive vice president.
Guarrera said he expects the HMO to be offered to workers in all major studios by the end of summer and estimates it will make a profit with as few as 5,000 enrollees.
About 500,000 Californians work in the motion picture, television, radio and videotape industries, the fund estimated.
The Woodland Hills, Calif.-based charity operates a health system that includes four clinics, 450 physicians, a retirement community and a 256-bed hospital.
The services are open to industry workers for a fee, but HMO enrollees will have reduced costs, Guarrera said.
The fund's HMO partner is Califor-niaCare Health Plans, an affiliate of Woodland Hills-based Blue Cross of California.
The HMO is expected to appeal mainly to movie studio employees and members of craft unions such as carpenters and makeup people.
Officials said it eventually will be available to those in the entertainment industry who are jobless, retired or self-employed.
The fund has had success with another health insurance system it began three years ago. It offers PPO coverage through self-insured industry unions such as the Directors Guild of America.
That plan has been well-received because it has attracted "doctors the entertainment industry is already using," said Matthias Erieg, administrator of the Directors Guild-Producers Health Plan.
The fund was founded in 1921 by Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin, Doug-las Fairbanks and D.W. Griffith and has annual revenues of $50 million.