Insurers line up to offer prescription drug benefit


Friday, September 23rd 2005, 9:46 am
By: News On 6


WASHINGTON (AP) _ Choices, choices. That's what senior citizens and the disabled will face in the coming months as they select a private plan to cover a portion of their prescription drug costs under Medicare.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced Friday that eight insurers have been approved to provide prescription drug coverage nationwide. In addition, scores of other companies have been approved to provide coverage on a regional basis. As a result, beneficiaries will have at least 11 plans to choose from, and in larger states, such as New York and Texas, beneficiaries will choose from among 20 plans.

Federal officials said the array of options is good news for beneficiaries.

``The competition between these organizations has resulted in lower costs than expected,'' said Dr. Mark McClellan, administrator for CMS. ``Forty-nine states will have a drug plan with a premium below $20.''

The new prescription drug benefit kicks in on Jan. 1. There is no single Medicare drug plan. Instead, private insurers provide coverage and will offer an array of options. The program was designed to help most Medicare recipients save money. However, each person's situation will vary, depending on factors, such as health and drug usage.