Medicare Drug Benefit Premiums in California Examined
The Sacramento Bee on Monday examined premiums and plan options in California for the new Medicare prescription drug benefit, which will take effect Jan.1, 2006.
Michael Negrete of the California Pharmacist Association said California residents will pay the lowest premiums in the nation for the benefit because of the state's high enrollment in managed care plans and existing rebate policies with drug manufacturers, among other cost-control measures.
Jack Cheevers, director of communications for CMS' regional San Francisco office, said, "There is tremendous competition in California," adding that state residents can expect a "blizzard" of marketing materials once companies are allowed to begin advertising plans Oct.1.
Private companies will offer 40 stand-alone prescription drug plans in California, with six that have monthly premiums of less than $20. Plans will cost an average of $25 in the state.
Medicare Advantage plans will be offered as well, and some will not require the $250 annual deductible, according to Bonnie Burns, director of training for California Health Advocates.
However, Negrete said low premiums could cause some local drugstores to lose money and close, which could create access problems in some neighborhoods (Weaver Teichert, Sacramento Bee, 9/19).
Additional information on the Medicare drug benefit is available online.