HealthLeaders-InterStudy, a leading provider of managed care industry intelligence, finds that local Medicare plans in Washington face serious price competition from large national plans entering a newly competitive market. According to the latest issue of Oregon & Washington Health Plan Analysis, both Humana Inc. and UnitedHealthcare, the largest of the new entrants, are underpricing local plans.
"Washington has a large available market of uncommitted seniors," said Micaela Brown, HealthLeaders-InterStudy analyst. "Only 118,000 of the state's 827,000 Medicare eligibles were enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans as of September. The largest Washington Medicare plan is Group Health Cooperative, with nearly 60,000 of those members. Group Health has strong customer loyalty, and should be able to defend its position, but the smaller plans don't have distinct brand identities and will definitely have more trouble distinguishing themselves in a competition that will probably turn largely on price."
Humana is not currently offering a Medicare Advantage plan in Washington, but the insurer is offering the lowest priced stand-alone prescription drug plan. In fact, Humana offers the lowest prescription drug premium in every state where it competes.
UnitedHealthcare is offering a variety of Medicare Advantage plans including a $0 premium plan that includes medical, hospital and prescription drug coverage. United expects that its long experience in managing Medicare patients, which includes a partnership with the AARP, will enable it to manage costs.
Other health plan news in Oregon and Washington: * In both Oregon and Washington, the managed care market has remained flat, with the various HMO and PPO products taking on features from each other. * Aetna is targeting federal employees in Spokane with a consumer-directed health plan. * Employees in Seattle's Kings County are facing penalties for not participating in wellness activities, a program the healthcare industry calls "play or pay." 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.
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/.
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