If there’s one group of Americans who don’t carry their weight and need to pay more money to the healthcare industry, it’s those layabout senior citizens! That’s why their Medicare drug premiums are increasing by an average of 31% for the 10 most popular plans beginning in 2009. If you were with Humana, formerly the cheapest Medicare drug plan you could get (its premium was $9.51 in 2006), you can expect to pay $40.83 per month in 2009, an increase of 60% over this year’s rate. As you would expect, Humana is no longer the cheapest option—so it may be time to shop around for a new plan.
When the drug program began in 2006, Humana’s premiums were among the cheapest. Humana, Mr. Noland said, has provided the most cumulative value for its drug-plan members, saving them an average of $4,900 on drug costs during that time and that the premiums are still in line with rivals.
The drug plans are heavily subsidized by the federal government and are offered through private insurance companies. Insurers will begin advertising their plans Oct. 1, and the six-week enrollment period starts in mid-November.
It’s unclear how the price increases will affect the market. Medicare beneficiaries tend to select a plan and stay with it, and the market is highly concentrated.