Seniors Participate in Medicare+Choice Plans Despite Coverage Risk, New Survey Finds
Although Medicare+Choice plans have dropped coverage for more than 2.4 million seniors since 1998, many Medicare beneficiaries continue to participate in the program, according to a report released Monday by Weiss Ratings, an independent financial ratings agency. The number of health insurers that offer Medicare+Choice plans has decreased from 346 to 179, or 48.3%, between 1998 and 2003, but enrollment in the plans has decreased only 16.6% over the same time period, the report found (Reuters Health/Yahoo! News, 12/9). The report found that Ohio, Texas, California, Florida and Missouri had the largest number of seniors dropped from Medicare+Choice plans since 1998 (Weiss Ratings release, 12/9). Melissa Gannon, vice president of Weiss Ratings, said, "Seniors want and need access to affordable and more comprehensive health care." She added, "In exchange for the lower out-of-pocket costs and additional benefits that HMOs provide, consumers will accept a lack of provider choice, consistent decreases in covered services and the risk of losing coverage altogether." The report recommended that seniors who lose Medicare+Choice coverage purchase a Medigap policy (Reuters/Yahoo! News, 12/9).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.