Enrollment in Two Sonoma County Medicare+Choice Plans Increases Despite Hikes in Monthly Premiums
Enrollment has increased in two Sonoma County Medicare+Choice programs offered by Health Plan of the Redwoods and Kaiser Permanente, despite the fact that premiums have more than doubled for each plan, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports. Enrollment in HPR's MediPrime program has risen by more than 1,000 people, to 11,618, since the premium increases were announced last October. In addition, local officials "are certain" that enrollment in Kaiser's Senior Advantage will be higher than its current 16,800 members, although membership rates will not be released until February. As of Jan. 1, rates for HPR's MediPrime increased from $37 to $79 per month, and monthly premiums for Kaiser's Senior Advantage rose from $30 to $80. According to the Press Democrat, the higher enrollment figures are due in "no small part" to the departure of the HMOs' two major competitors -- Health Net and PacifiCare -- from Medicare+Choice. Health Net discontinued its Seniority Plus program near the end of 2000, while PacifiCare ended its Secure Horizons program last fall. The Press Democrat reports that the departures left about 3,000 seniors without a Medicare HMO. Although these seniors "had several options," including returning to traditional Medicare coverage or switching to a MediGap plan, many favor Medicare HMOs because they offer prescription drug benefits, the Press Democrat reports (Rose, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 1/12).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.