California Will Have Lowest Average Monthly Premiums for Medicare Drug Benefit, CMS Says
California will have the lowest average monthly premiums in the nation for the new Medicare prescription drug benefit, CMS officials announced on Aug. 29, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. California residents eligible for the benefit will pay on average $25.41 monthly, compared with a national average of $32.20 monthly.
CMS spokesperson Gary Karr said, "There are just a lot of companies competing for business in California. It's a robust market."
Health experts have said high enrollment in managed care plans in California and other Western states appears to be spurring competition between companies and lowering premium costs.
CMS officials said the premium estimate is based on figures from stand-alone companies and does not include the costs of prescription drug coverage as part of an insurance plan. Officials estimate between 11 and 23 companies will offer stand-alone drug plans, with at least one plan costing less than $20 monthly in every region but Alaska (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 8/30).
Additional information on the Medicare drug benefit is available online.