Monthly costs for the cheapest Medicare plans will rise from $9.46 to $13.58 according to information compiled and released by Medicare. But that's not all; Humana Inc. -- the largest provider of low-cost drug plans -- has raised prices 500 percent in some cases, and Medicare itself reduced its monthly subsidy by 15 percent to $80 per person.
Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, said that "Many people are going to feel that they are victims of a bait-and-switch tactic...there's no question that it will be an extraordinary disappointment."
Democratic Representative Henry Waxman of California added that "The department's numbers appear to be wrong, and they disguise significant increase in premiums for Medicare drug plans … the release of erroneous information about the cost of premiums -- whether deliberate or not -- is a disservice to millions of seniors."
Although 2007 estimates for Medicare plans are not being backed down by Medicare officials, the new plans for 2007 include costs of stand-alone drug plans and programs where people sign up with insurance companies for administration of all of their benefits, according to Mark McClellan, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, in a response letter to Representative Waxman.
"The Medicare drug plan was never really about saving money for senior citizens," explains Mike Adams, a consumer health advocate and critic of drug company profiteering. "It was a politically-motivated scheme to ensure the continued profits of pharmaceutical companies by locking in drug customers while making it illegal for the federal government to negotiate volume discounts. It should have been called the Big Pharma profit preservation plan."