Low-income seniors will have fewer Part D prescription drug plans to choose from in 2009, according to an analysis conducted by Avalere Health. Avalere found that 1.3 million low-income Medicare beneficiaries will be automatically reassigned by the end of 2008.
Six states — Arizona, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, and New Hampshire — will each have five or fewer plans available to automatically enroll low-income residents in 2009. Humana continued its withdrawal from the low-income market, but United Healthcare expanded its presence in the market after losing 600,000 low-income beneficiaries last year.
“United Healthcare lost enrollees between 2007 and 2008 because they lost the ability to enroll low-income beneficiaries in several states,” says Bonnie Washington, a vice president at Avalere Health.
“For 2009, they will be able to regain the ability to enroll low-income beneficiaries in some of the states where they lost eligibility in 2008. We expect that their enrollment will go up in 2009 because they will have more states in which they are eligible to enroll low-income seniors.”
Insurers have been turning their sights towards the dual eligibles — those eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid. Some have been expanding and others have been contracting their service to low-income seniors for 2009, says Washington. “The fundamental question for Medicare is whether low-income beneficiaries end up in plans that do not fully meet their medical needs — especially given the fact that their choices are limited in many states,” says Washington.