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Kaiser to Raise Price for Seniors on Medicare

August 23, 2000|SHARON BERNSTEIN

Kaiser Permanente, like competitors PacifiCare Health Systems, Blue Shield and other health plans, will raise premiums next year for most of its Medicare members in California, officials said Tuesday.

Kaiser, which already charges seniors $50 per month in Fresno and other Central California counties, will charge $20 per month to seniors in Los Angeles and Orange counties, and $30 per month in San Diego, Ventura, San Francisco, Alameda and other counties.

Premiums in Central California will not go up.

Kaiser's move is in keeping with other health plans, which have said the federal government reimburses so little for Medicare members that they must either raise prices or drop out of the program.

Health plans representing about 1 million seniors said earlier this summer that they would stop offering Medicare HMO plans in hundreds of counties across the nation. Those that decided to remain in the program said they would raise prices.

Most plans have not released the specifics of their rate hikes, which must be submitted for approval to the federal Health Care Financing Administration by Sept. 15.

But Kaiser decided to notify members that an increase was on the way, said spokesman Jim Anderson, so patients would be prepared for it. The Oakland-based nonprofit HMO, the largest in California, sent letters to members in the counties where rates would increase, detailing the new costs. The new rates, if approved by regulators, will go into effect Jan. 1.

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