Health plans to lower premiums with new federal medicare funds.
Medicare Advantage beneficiaries can expect access to more affordable, enhanced coverage as a result of the new 2004 funding rates, according to the American Association of Health Plans-Health Insurance Association of America, which surveyed member companies that participate in the program. Medicare Advantage plans have replaced the old Medicare+Choice coverage.
Plans that represent more than 93% of the market plan to use the money to lower monthly premiums, AAHP-HIAA said. One plan in New England is lowering premiums an average of 23%, which is a typical example, the group said. Beneficiaries of the plan will save as much as $67 a month. A majority of the plans also are reducing copayments and deductibles. More than 80% of beneficiaries are in line for reduced copays and deductibles, health plans told AAHP-HIAA.
Meanwhile, plans that cover more than 60% of beneficiaries said they would use the funding to enhance of increase benefits through prescription-drug coverage, preventive screening and disease-management programs, according to the survey. For 75% of beneficiaries, their plans said they would strengthen and broaden pbysician and hospital networks, AAHPHIAA said.
Thirty-three companies said they plan to offer health savings accounts, while 30 other companies were considering it, the group said. In addition, 37 companies said they are applying to offer drug discount cards, while 31 are considering offering new Medigap packages in 2006.
As a result of the changes, 80% of health plans said they expect enrollment to increase in 2004, and 75% said they expected it to go up even further in 2005, said AAHP-HIAA spokesman Mohit Ghose. That would reverse the five-year trend of slow growth and declining availability of private Medicare plans.
Medicare Funds Targeted uses * for additional Medicare advantage funds. Percentage of Beneficiaries Represented by Responding Companies Decreased Beneficiary Premiums 93% Decreased Beneficiary Cost Sharing 80% Enhanced Benefits 60% * Many companies have targeted more than one category Note: Table made from bar graph. Source: AAHP-HIAA
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|Comment:||Health plans to lower premiums with new federal medicare funds.(Briefing)|
|Date:||Mar 1, 2004|
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