Cigna, Wellpoint chosen for Medicare drug benefit

Cigna Corp., Wellpoint Inc. and eight other companies have been approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to offer Medicare prescription drug benefits to seniors starting in January.

While some states will have more plans to choose from than others, every state except Alaska has at least one plan with premiums at or below $20 a month, said CMS Administrator Mark McClellan.

“The drug plans are offering better benefits at lower prices than independent experts had predicted because they are competing to serve everyone in Medicare. Drug plans know beneficiaries don’t have to sign up. It’s a voluntary benefit,” McClellan said.

According to Lindsay Shearer, spokesperson for Cigna Healthcare of New Hampshire, the company will offer eligible Granite Staters three plans, ranging in price from $34.92 to just under $48 a month.

Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Hampshire, a Wellpoint Inc. subsidiary, will offer 16 plans, with many premiums below $20 per month, said Chris Dugan, the insurer’s director of communications in New Hampshire. Medicare was expected to start mailing information about the prescription benefits, also known as Medicare Part D, in early October. – CINDY KIBBE

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