KAISER PERMANENTE: Health Plan to Charge Orange County Seniors Premiums
Kaiser Permanente announced Monday that its Orange County Medicare HMO members will have to pay a $20 monthly premium beginning next year, the Orange Country Register reports. The announcement, which marks the first time the health plan has charged membership fees for Southern California seniors, comes shortly after several other plans announced that they will pull out of the Medicare HMO market in other regions throughout the country (Wolfson, 8/22). Last week Kaiser said that it would begin charging premiums for Medicare HMO members in Sacramento, El Dorado, Yolo and Placer counties (California Healthline, 8/17). Barbara Shipnuck, Kaiser's Orange County spokesperson, said, "The reason we feel forced to institute the premium is because of the increase in prescription drug costs and new medical technology." Kaiser Medicare HMO members in Los Angeles also will pay $20 per month and San Diego members will be charged $30 per month. However, the company will not cap prescription drug payments or increase the copay for office visits, Shipnuck said. The premium changes are contingent upon HCFA approval (Orange County Register, 8/22).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.