Sacramento Bee Examines Scheduled Sacramento-Area Medicare HMO Premium Increases
The Sacramento Bee today examines the rising monthly premiums and "steeper fees" that Medicare HMO beneficiaries in the Sacramento area will face next year. Although no health plans are exiting the market in 2003, some will increase monthly premiums. According to the Bee, premiums for PacifiCare's Secure Horizons Medicare HMO and Western Health Advantage will increase by $10 to $60, while Health Net's Seniority Plus will go up by $15 to $75. Premiums for Kaiser's Senior Advantage plan will remain at $80, following a 100% increase this year. Some plans also are reducing benefits, such as limiting prescription drug coverage to as little as $500 per year, and increasing beneficiaries' fees for hospital admission to as high as $800. Deanne Beebe of the Medicare Rights Center said, "In California, like elsewhere in the country, there is no relief from the trend we've seen for the last several years. People with Medicare who choose to join HMOs are paying more and more and getting less and less." The health plans say the increases are necessary because of insufficient reimbursement from the federal government. Kathy Feeny, an executive vice president at PacifiCare, said, "Over the last few years, we looked at health care costs in different counties and looked at how we could cover gaps between our costs and the federal reimbursements. Premiums are the last thing we want to change, but we found we had to do this to maintain coverage in the counties we serve" (Rapaport, Sacramento Bee, 11/8).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.