HealthLeaders-InterStudy, a leading provider of managed care industry intelligence, finds that health insurers offering Medicare's new prescription drug discount plan to 4.3 million eligible seniors in California are bracing for a costly and competitive campaign for market share. According to the latest issue of California Health Plan Analysis from HealthLeaders-InterStudy, a total of 19 sponsoring organizations are offering 40 stand-alone prescription drug plans.

"In California, the competition has driven the average premium rate down to $25.41," said John Leighty, HealthLeaders-InterStudy analyst. "Six plans are charging $20, the lowest in the nation."

An advertising and promotional blitz by insurers coincides with the federal government's $300 million national educational program for the plans, which begin coverage January 1, 2006.

  Other health plan news in California:   * Despite some erosion in recent years, California's commercial HMO     penetration remained fairly steady between January 2004 and January     2005.   * The 1.2 million-member California Public Employees Retirement System     wants to use the collective muscle of the nation's largest healthcare     purchaser to get lower hospital pricing.   * About 1,300 physicians with high ratings for clinical performance and     cost effectiveness have been selected for a CIGNA Care Network in     Southern California that is being rolled out in January 2006.    About Health Plan Analysis 

Health Plan Analysis identifies key health plan trends, allowing healthcare businesses to create comprehensive strategic plans and sales strategies at state and local levels.

About HealthLeaders-InterStudy

HealthLeaders-InterStudy, a company of Decision Resources, Inc. (http://www.decisionresources.com/), is the authoritative source for managed care data and analysis. For more information, please visit http://www.healthleaders-interstudy.com/.

All company, brand, or product names contained in this document may be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders.

  For more information, contact:    Alex Jablokow    Decision Resources    781-296-2562    ajablokow@dresources.com 

SOURCE: HealthLeaders-InterStudy

CONTACT: Alex Jablokow of Decision Resources, +1-781-296-2562,
ajablokow@dresources.com

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