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HealthMetrix Research Finds Medicare Advantage Plans Offer Seniors Opportunity to Lower Their 2009 Out-of-Pocket Drug Costs

Tuesday, December 2, 2008 General News J E 4
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COLUMBUS, Ohio, Dec. 1 Seniors who take a close look atthe Part D drug coverage offered by Medicare Advantage plans may still realizesavings next year. Medicare HMO and PPO plans in many locations will continueto offer $0 monthly premiums and $0 deductibles with partial coveragethroughout the "gap" or "donut hole" (when beneficiaries pay 100% of theirdrug bills until reaching $4,350 in out-of-pocket costs). HealthMetrixResearch Inc. screened over 360 such Medicare Advantage plans to identifywhich ones offer the best Part D drug benefits in 2009. The findings arebased solely on estimated member out-of-pocket costs and do not compare drugformularies.

According to HealthMetrix Research Inc. and MedicareNewsWatch.compresident Alan Mittermaier, "The findings are favorable for seniors in manyareas of the country who can enroll in $0 premium Medicare Advantage-Part Dplans. For 2009, there are no $0 premium drug-only Part D plans availableexcept for low-income seniors who qualify for premium subsidies.Beneficiaries currently enrolled in drug-only plans can expect 14% premiumincreases on average effective January 1st. That is on top of premiumincreases for most Medigap supplemental insurance coverage. Seniors who arewilling to bundle their Medicare coverage by enrolling in a Medicare HMO orPPO plan can realize considerable savings in annual medical and drug expenseseven with pre-existing medical conditions. The strategy and savings aresimilar to bundling auto, property and life insurance policies with a singleinsurer."

Alan Mittermaier also notes that "what may not register with all seniorsis that the same Medicare regulatory protections apply to enrollees in bothdrug-only and Medicare Advantage Part D plans with respect to required drugformulary lists and the rules for switching or dropping drugs. The reality isthat drug-only Part D plan sponsors will manage their drug benefits just asaggressively as Medicare Advantage plans."

The findings are from the HealthMetrix Research 2009 CostShare Reportcomparisons based on approved 2009 member copayments, deductibles and premiumsthat appear in the Medicare Options Compare database ( www.medicare.gov ).HealthMetrix Research neither recommends nor endorses specific Medicare plansor products.Best 2009 Part D Benefit Values Among Medicare Advantage Plans Offering $0 Premium $0 Deductible with Gap Coverage Arcadian Health Plan -- Charlotte, Portland (ME) Anthem -- Dayton Care1st -- Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego CIGNA -- Phoenix Citizens Choice Health Plan -- Los Angeles, Orange County (CA) Coventry Health Care -- Des Moines, Greensboro, Kansas City, Omaha Freedom Health -- Pensacola GEMCare -- Bakersfield HealthSpring -- Memphis, Mobile Health Plan of Nevada -- Reno Humana -- Albuquerque, Baton Rouge, Las Vegas, Miami, Salt Lake City, Tucson Kaiser Permanente -- Denver, Ventura County (CA) Liberty Health Advantage -- New York City, Nassau County Peoples Health Choice -- New Orleans Physicians Health Choice -- Austin, Corpus Christi, El Paso, Little Rock Quality Health Plans -- Ft. Lauderdale, West Palm Beach Touchstone Health -- Syracuse WellCare -- Albany, Atlanta, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Ft. Wayne, Honolulu, Indianapolis, St. Louis, South Bend, Essex-Hudson-Middlesex-Passaic-Union counties (NJ) Windsor Health Group -- Birmingham, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Nashville HealthMetrix Research Inc. www.MedicareNewsWatch.com 614-236-8345

SOURCE HealthMetrix Research Inc.
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