Remaining Medicare+Choice Plans in Sonoma County to More Than Double Monthly Premiums
Seniors enrolled in the two remaining Medicare+Choice plans in Sonoma County will see their premiums more than double next year, the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat reports. Kaiser Permanente's Senior Advantage, which covers 16,000 Sonoma County seniors, will raise its monthly premium from $30 to $80. The 11,000 seniors covered by the Health Plan of the Redwoods Medicare+Choice plan, MediPrime, will see monthly premiums increase from $37 to $79. Health Net and PacifiCare will drop their Medicare+Choice plans in the county next year. Kaiser and HPR said the "dramatic increases" are needed to offset the increasing costs of new technology, treatment advances and prescription drugs. HPR CEO John Baxter said beneficiaries will be notified soon of cost and benefit changes in an informational packet. Baxter said, "Modest changes were made to MediPrime to keep the premium increase at a minimum. The premium increase is necessary to help restore the financial stability of our medical community." Santa Rosa health care consultant Robert Shirrell said that with medical expenses across the board rising 12% and government reimbursements increasing "only" 2% each year, the higher premiums are "reasonable." He added, "It is still cheap at $80 a month. To some folks, the drug [benefits] alone are worth $100" (Rose, Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, 10/3).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.