Study: Plans not always a good deal

May 19, 2006 at 2:18 PM
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NEW YORK, May 19 (UPI) -- A study says beneficiaries in poor health could pay more for care in some Medicare Advantage plans than in traditional Medicare with Medigap.

The study by the Commonwealth Fund, a private nonpartisan group that supports independent research on health, says such beneficiaries could spend up to $2,195 more in annual out-of-pocket costs for their care in 19 out of 88 plans than in the fee-for-service Medicare with Medigap supplemental coverage.

The study found costs for beneficiaries in good health lower in all 88 Medicareadvantage plans. For those in fair health, all but two Medicareadvantage plans had lower costs than fee-for-service plans.

But for beneficiaries in poor health, 19 of the 88 plans had higher out-of-pocket costs than they would have had in traditional Medicare with a Medigap supplement.

"These findings raise questions about what Medicare is achieving with extra payments to private Medicare Advantage plans, which totaled more than $2.7 billion in 2005 over fee-for-service costs," said Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis.

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