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HealthMetrix Research Finds Medicare Advantage Plans Offer Seniors Opportunity to Lower Their 2009 Out-of-Pocket Drug Costs

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Dec. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Seniors who take a close look at the Part D drug coverage offered by Medicare Advantage plans may still realize savings next year. Medicare HMO and PPO plans in many locations will continue to offer $0 monthly premiums and $0 deductibles with partial coverage throughout the "gap" or "donut hole" (when beneficiaries pay 100% of their drug bills until reaching $4,350 in out-of-pocket costs). HealthMetrix Research Inc. screened over 360 such Medicare Advantage plans to identify which ones offer the best Part D drug benefits in 2009. The findings are based solely on estimated member out-of-pocket costs and do not compare drug formularies.

According to HealthMetrix Research Inc. and president Alan Mittermaier, "The findings are favorable for seniors in many areas of the country who can enroll in $0 premium Medicare Advantage-Part D plans. For 2009, there are no $0 premium drug-only Part D plans available except for low-income seniors who qualify for premium subsidies. Beneficiaries currently enrolled in drug-only plans can expect 14% premium increases on average effective January 1st. That is on top of premium increases for most Medigap supplemental insurance coverage. Seniors who are willing to bundle their Medicare coverage by enrolling in a Medicare HMO or PPO plan can realize considerable savings in annual medical and drug expenses even with pre-existing medical conditions. The strategy and savings are similar to bundling auto, property and life insurance policies with a single insurer."

Alan Mittermaier also notes that "what may not register with all seniors is that the same Medicare regulatory protections apply to enrollees in both drug-only and Medicare Advantage Part D plans with respect to required drug formulary lists and the rules for switching or dropping drugs. The reality is that drug-only Part D plan sponsors will manage their drug benefits just as aggressively as Medicare Advantage plans."

The findings are from the HealthMetrix Research 2009 CostShare Report comparisons based on approved 2009 member copayments, deductibles and premiums that appear in the Medicare Options Compare database ( ). HealthMetrix Research neither recommends nor endorses specific Medicare plans or products.

  Best 2009 Part D Benefit Values Among Medicare Advantage Plans Offering $0
                   Premium $0 Deductible with Gap Coverage

    Arcadian Health Plan -- Charlotte, Portland (ME)
    Anthem -- Dayton
    Care1st -- Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego
    CIGNA -- Phoenix
    Citizens Choice Health Plan -- Los Angeles, Orange County (CA)
    Coventry Health Care -- Des Moines, Greensboro, Kansas City, Omaha
    Freedom Health -- Pensacola
    GEMCare -- Bakersfield
    HealthSpring -- Memphis, Mobile
    Health Plan of Nevada -- Reno
    Humana -- Albuquerque, Baton Rouge, Las Vegas, Miami, Salt Lake City,
    Kaiser Permanente -- Denver, Ventura County (CA)
    Liberty Health Advantage -- New York City, Nassau County
    Peoples Health Choice -- New Orleans
    Physicians Health Choice -- Austin, Corpus Christi, El Paso, Little Rock
    Quality Health Plans -- Ft. Lauderdale, West Palm Beach
    Touchstone Health -- Syracuse
    WellCare -- Albany, Atlanta, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus,
     Dallas-Ft. Worth, Ft. Wayne, Honolulu, Indianapolis, St. Louis, South
     Bend, Essex-Hudson-Middlesex-Passaic-Union counties (NJ)
    Windsor Health Group -- Birmingham, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Nashville

    HealthMetrix Research Inc.

SOURCE HealthMetrix Research Inc.
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