Seniors Need To Check Options As Medicare Advantage Plans Change, Drop OutThe Seattle Times: "The exodus of dozens of Medicare Advantage plans from various counties or from the state entirely is leaving 40,588 seniors across Washington to wade through charts in search of new plans. In some counties, most Medicare Advantage plans no longer will be offered, leaving patients with little choice. Those whose Medicare Advantage plans have left their areas should have been notified, and have until Jan. 31 to change. However, the state Insurance Commissioner's Office advises signing up before Dec. 31 to make sure there's no break in coverage. Although Medicare Advantage (MA) plans come and go every year, turnover here and nationally is much higher this year than last, when almost 18,000 Washington residents lost their plans" (Ostrom, 11/7).
Minneapolis Star Tribune: "Out-of-pocket prescription drug costs will drop sharply next year for thousands of Minnesotans who carry Medicare drug insurance -- especially those with the highest expenses. That's because the federal health care overhaul passed last spring will begin to erase the 'doughnut hole' gap in Medicare coverage that has required beneficiaries to shoulder sizable costs. Most affected will be the 125,000 or so Minnesotans with the highest drug expenses -- about a quarter of the 510,000 beneficiaries with Medicare Part D -- who traditionally hit that $3,610 gap in coverage and begin paying the full cost for drugs. Starting next year, a federal subsidy will allow those who hit the gap to pay 50 percent of the cost of medications, for brand-name drugs covered by their policy, and 93 percent of the cost for the much cheaper generic drugs" (Wolfe, 11/7).
Omaha World-Herald: "Comparing drug plans for Medicare Part D has become more important because of the tight economy, Nebraska and Iowa health insurance officials say. Enrollment for 2011 coverage starts Nov. 15 and runs through Dec. 31. It's the period in which people can switch plans. The federal Part D program provides subsidized prescription drug coverage for people 65 and older or people who have disabilities. Premiums and co-payments have increased for some plans in 2011, [Rachel Schlesselman of the Nebraska Senior Health Insurance Information Program] said" (O'Conner, 11/7). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.