SENIORS GET TO PICK FROM DRUG PLANS ENROLLMENT IN PRESCRIPTION PROGRAMS TO BEGIN NOV. 1.Byline: Staff and Wire Services
WASHINGTON - Choices, choices. That's what senior citizens and the disabled will face in the coming months as they select a private plan to cover a portion of their prescription drug prescription drug Prescription medication Pharmacology An FDA-approved drug which must, by federal law or regulation, be dispensed only pursuant to a prescription–eg, finished dose form and active ingredients subject to the provisos of the Federal Food, Drug, costs under Medicare Medicare, national health insurance program in the United States for persons aged 65 and over and the disabled. It was established in 1965 with passage of the Social Security Amendments and is now run by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. .
The Bush administration announced Friday that 10 insurers have been approved nationwide to provide prescription drug coverage through the Medicare benefit that kicks in Jan. 1.
In addition, several other companies have been approved to provide coverage on a regional basis. As a result, beneficiaries will have at least 11 prescription drug plans to choose from, and in larger states, such as New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of and Texas, beneficiaries can choose from among 20 plans.
The options are even greater when considering that beneficiaries could also opt to get their drug coverage through Medicare Advantage Plans, which operate like a health maintenance organization, and offer more comprehensive coverage than just a drug benefit.
WellPoint Inc., which maintains significant operations in Thousand Oaks Thousand Oaks, residential city (1990 pop. 104,352), Ventura co., S Calif., in a farm area; inc. 1964. Avocados, citrus, vegetables, strawberries, and nursery products are grown. and Woodland Hills, won a number of contracts, including Medicare Advantage Plans for California California (kăl'ĭfôr`nyə), most populous state in the United States, located in the Far West; bordered by Oregon (N), Nevada and, across the Colorado River, Arizona (E), Mexico (S), and the Pacific Ocean (W). , Indiana Indiana, state, United States
Indiana, midwestern state in the N central United States. It is bordered by Lake Michigan and the state of Michigan (N), Ohio (E), Kentucky, across the Ohio R. (S), and Illinois (W). , Ohio and Kentucky. As part of the prescription drug benefit, it will offer drug coverage across California.
``We believe very strongly that supporting national health care solutions for seniors is imperative,'' said Susan E. Rawlings, president of senior services for WellPoint and its Blue Cross of California subsidiary. ``This prescription drug benefit plan will meet a significant need of beneficiaries. This really is a good thing all around.''
Woodland Hills-based Health Net Inc. also announced Friday that it will add 98 new plans nationwide as an expansion of the Medicare Advantage and new drug coverage. It currently serves 171,000 members in five states, but plans to add prescription coverage to 10 states and Advantage plans in an additional five.
``We foresee fore·see
tr.v. fore·saw , fore·seen , fore·see·ing, fore·sees
To see or know beforehand: foresaw the rapid increase in unemployment. a pretty significant expansion in membership because of this,'' said David Olson, Health Net's senior vice president of corporate communications Corporate communications is the process of facilitating information and knowledge exchanges with internal and key external groups and individuals that have a direct relationship with an enterprise. . ``We're very encouraged at this point.''
Health Net plans to spend up to $35 million this year to hire new staffers and add infrastructure to handle the anticipated influx of new members. WellPoint also plans on increasing its staff, but did not disclose how many positions it will add.
Federal officials said the array of options is good news for beneficiaries.
``The competition between these organizations has resulted in lower costs than expected,'' said Dr. Mark McClellan Mark Barr McClellan (born June 26, 1963) was sworn in as Administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in the United States Department of Health and Human Services on March 25, 2004. , administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), previously known as the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA), is a federal agency within the United States Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) that administers the Medicare program and . ``Forty-nine states will have a drug plan with a premium below $20.''
The only state with a plan that did not offer a premium below $20 a month was Alaska.
There is no single Medicare drug plan. Instead, private insurers will offer an array of coverage options. Customers will pay some of the costs through premiums and co-pays. The government also subsidizes some of the costs. The tab for the federal government for the program's first 10 years is now estimated at $720 billion.
``It's really clear the drug benefit has attracted many, many businesses from throughout the country,'' said Tricia Neuman, vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), or just Kaiser Family Foundation, is a U.S.-based non-profit, private operating foundation headquartered in Menlo Park, California. , which conducts health care research. ``What's less clear and really important is what they're offering and how seniors will respond to the opportunity to enroll.''
The program was designed to help most Medicare recipients save money. However, each person's situation will vary, depending on factors such as health and drug usage.
Companies can begin marketing their plans Oct. 1. Enrollment will begin Nov. 15.
McClellan said his agency will try, beginning in mid-October, to help Medicare beneficiaries select the plan that best fits their needs.
Medicare provides health benefits to nearly 42 million elderly and disabled Americans. The new drug benefit is voluntary.