The Associated Press: "Millions of seniors who signed up for popular private health plans through Medicare are facing sharp premium increases this year — another sign that spiraling costs are a problem even for those with solid insurance. A study to be released Friday ... found that premiums for Medicare Advantage plans offering medical and prescription drug coverage jumped 14.2 percent on average in 2010, after an increase of only 5.2 percent the previous year. Some 8.5 million elderly and disabled Americans are in the plans, which provide more comprehensive coverage than traditional Medicare." The study, done by Avalere Health, a data analysis firm, "found that the average monthly Medicare Advantage premium for 2010 is $39.61, representing an increase of nearly $5 a month from the previous year. That compares with a rise of less than $1.75 a month in 2009" (Alonso-Zaldivar, 2/19).
Business Week/Bloomberg: "Medicare may announce cuts of as much as 4 percent in government payments to U.S. health insurers for policies serving the elderly, threatening profit growth at UnitedHealth Group Inc., Humana Inc. and HealthSpring Inc. The agency in charge of Medicare is due to announce preliminary rates today for insurers offering so-called Medicare Advantage plans in 2011. ... The preliminary rates, to be made final in April, are based on Medicare's projections of where costs will go in the coming year, adjustments for how doctors' fees are expected to change, and the relative sickness of beneficiaries" (Nussbaum, 2/19).