Regence could lose its lead in Medicare Advantage members with its high cost premiums in 2010
October 15, 2009 -- Unlike its competitors, Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield is asking seniors to pay much higher premiums for their Medicare Advantage plans next year, according to filings submitted to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Regence is charging seniors $176 a month -- a whopping 31 percent increase -- for its enhanced plan in 2010, and $126 a month for its lower cost basic plan, representing a 15.8 percent increase.
Those higher rates could create stiffer competition for Regence when seniors start enrolling on Nov. 10, particularly if they heed the words from President Obama who’s repeatedly asserted that Medicare Advantage plans are financially lucrative. Insurers not only receive monthly premiums, but are also rewarded handsomely by the federal government.
Regence could be counting on its high enrollment numbers this year, leading the pack with 59,691 seniors, according to the latest statistics from the Insurance Division.
Providence Health Plans appear to have the second highest monthly premiums in 2010, charging $117 for their most comprehensive coverage (5 percent increase) and $58 for its less costly plan (12 percent increase). Providence had 35,657 seniors enrolled as of June 30.
Kaiser, which has had larger margins and better than expected utilization during 2009, is immune from these rate increases and will continue charging seniors $99 a month for its most expensive product. Kaiser is also lowering preventative benefits such as colonoscopies to $0.
The PPO plan offered by United HealthCare will still have a $0 premium, while the copayment for brand-name drugs has been raised to $39 and non-preferred drugs will cost $74.
Under the Secure Horizon HMO, seniors will pay $5 more this year for their monthly premiums, while there are benefit reductions in hospital, outpatient surgery and brand-name drugs.
Health Net, meanwhile, is charging $89 a month for its most expensive coverage (a 25 percent increase), and changing hospital copayments from four days at $100/per day to eight hospital days at $150/per day.
Health Net is also adding a $75 deductible, and increasing copayments for preferred drugs from $30 to $38 and non-preferred from $60 to $75. Of Health Net’s membership of 21,679 seniors, approximately 5 percent are enrolled in its lower-cost option, which does not charge a monthly premium.