USA Today Examines Different Medicare Drug Plans
USA Today on Monday examined different plans offered by health insurers under the new Medicare prescription drug benefit (Appleby , USA Today, 12/12).
According to USA Today, most health insurers decided to participate in the Medicare prescription drug benefit "despite the unknown terrain," but "whether they turn a profit depends on how well they've estimated their costs" and the number of beneficiaries who enroll in their plans (Appleby , USA Today, 12/12). USA Today used data from the research firm Avalere Health to compare Medicare prescription drug plans offered by Medco Health Solutions, PacifiCare Health Systems, UnitedHealthcare, Cigna, SilverScript and UniCare, as well as plans offered by Humana in 46 states.
According to USA Today, two of the three Medicare prescription drug plans offered by Humana have the lowest monthly premiums, and the third plan covers both generic and brand-name medications in the "doughnut hole" in coverage. The three plans offered by PacifiCare do not have annual deductibles, and one plan covers generic medications in the doughnut hole.
A plan offered by UniCare that has higher monthly premiums covers more than twice as many medications as two other plans that have lower monthly premiums. The plans offered by Cigna have higher monthly premiums, but they cover more medications and require copayments for only three prescription drug categories.
Meanwhile, plans offered by UnitedHealth have lower monthly premiums and fewer prior-authorization requirements than those offered by other health insurers. One plan offered by Medco has benefits similar to the standard benefit required under Medicare but requires 75% copays for brand-name prescription drugs not included on the plan formulary (Appleby , USA Today, 12/12).
- "AARP's Medicare Drug Benefit" (Adams, CQ Weekly, 12/12).
- "Insurer, Meijer Join on Part D" (Merx, Detroit Free Press, 12/12).
- "Medicare 'Doughnut Hole' May Hit Millions" (Shelton, Orlando Sentinel, 12/11).
- "Neediest May Be Hurt by New Medicare Drug Plan" (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 12/12).
- "Medicare Choices Daunting" (LaMendola, South Florida Sun Sentinel, 12/12).
- "Parents May Prize Help in Picking Drug Plan" (Ambrose, Baltimore Sun, 12/11).
- "Across America, Kids and Their Parents Sit Down for the Talk" (Wolf, USA Today, 12/12).
- "Read the Fine Print Before Signing Up for Medicare's Drug Benefit" (Crenshaw, Washington Post, 12/11).
Several broadcast programs recently reported on the Medicare prescription drug benefit:
- ABCNews' "This Week": The program included an interview with HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt in which he answered viewer questions about the Medicare prescription drug benefit (Stephanopoulos, "This Week," ABCNews, 12/11). A video excerpt of the segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- APM's "Marketplace Morning Report": The segment includes comments from Tricia Neuman, a vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation and director of the foundation Medicare Policy Project (Palmer, "Marketplace Morning Report," APM, 12/9). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- NPR's "All Things Considered": The segment reports on the estimated 12 million Medicare beneficiaries with prescription drug coverage from former employers who could "end up worse off" under the prescription drug benefit. The segment includes comments from Stephanie Altman, staff attorney with Health and Disability Advocates, and Medicare beneficiaries (Rovner, "All Things Considered," NPR, 12/9). A transcript of the segment is available online. The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.