HealthLeaders-InterStudy, the leading provider of managed care market intelligence, reports the basic look of the prescription drug plan (PDP) market changed little with the second open enrollment period despite new competitors and variations among old plans, including increased gap coverage and lower deductibles. According to the new report entitled Medicare Outlook, the only successful methods for significantly gaining lives in this market were acquiring competitors, lowering prices, or obtaining those low-income seniors automatically enrolled by the federal government.

"The market is essentially set with 17 companies now operating on a national level and many more focused on individual states or regions," states Roy Moore, market analyst for HealthLeaders-InterStudy and author of the report. "UnitedHealthcare and Humana remain strong in their current positions, and consolidation further down the market could happen as smaller plans see their chances for improvement crushed by intense competition."

UnitedHealthcare extended its lead with help from the company's partnership with Wal-Mart involving 700 stores in 30 states. The company added 218,000 lives for a 5 percent overall gain since August 2006 to give it nearly 4.7 million nationally and a 28 percent share of enrollees.

Humana took the No. 2 market position through a combination of low prices for its standard plans and savvy marketing alliances with companies like Wal- Mart. Humana raised its prices, but counted on loyalty among its 3.5 million PDP members, a strategy that seems to have worked. The company also eliminated the branded coverage in the gap and raised prices for its 'Complete' plans. These plans originally featured brand-name drug coverage through the gap, but the program attracted those seniors who were most likely to take advantage of that feature and drove the product below profitability. Humana expected these changes would force many seniors to abandon the plan; however, the company kept stable enrollment of 414,000 members.

WellCare Health Plans made a play in 2007 for the less-expensive end of the stand-alone PDP market dominated by Humana. While Humana raised the prices on its drug plans substantially, WellCare tried to pick up lives by offering the least-expensive plans in high-profile states, including Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada and Texas. However, Chairman and CEO Todd Farha stated in the company's quarterly earnings call that PDP membership jumped 44,000 members from the end of 2006 to February 2007, achieving the high end of its growth objective for the year.

About Medicare Outlook

Medicare Outlook is a comprehensive report covering the dynamic managed care segment of Medicare. From analysis on the latest Medicare initiatives to organized Medicare enrollment data, Medicare Outlook offers organizations the information necessary in understanding developments from within the Medicare market.

The analysis component of this report will highlight specific Medicare topical areas, including prescription drug plans, Medicare Advantage, special needs plans, pay-for-performance, technological initiatives, to name a few.

The Medicare enrollment data files that accompany this report include county, state and region level enrollment, a plan trended report with enrollment information for each month since August 2006, dispensing of generics by the top health plans and contact information for Medicare Advantage and PDP-based plans.

This single report is now available from HealthLeaders-InterStudy. Members of the media can contact HealthLeaders-InterStudy to request an interview with an analyst.

About HealthLeaders-InterStudy

HealthLeaders-InterStudy is the authoritative source for managed care data, analysis, and news. For more information, please visit

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

  For more information, contact:    Kelly Morphy   HealthLeaders-InterStudy   615-369-4818 

SOURCE: HealthLeaders-InterStudy

CONTACT: Kelly Morphy for HealthLeaders-InterStudy, +1-615-369-4818,

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