Study: In Poorest Counties, Medicare Advantage Premiums Lower but Drug Deductibles Are Higher

Premiums 14% lower on average but drug deductibles 37% higher

SUNNYVALE, Calif., March 19, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Given recently published research indicating a higher incidence of low-income enrollees in Medicare Advantage plans than in traditional Medicare fee-for-service coverage, HealthPocket analyzed Medicare Advantage premiums and drug deductibles in the 25 counties with the lowest per capita income. HealthPocket found that when compared to national trends, Medicare Advantage plans in the 25 poorest counties had 14% lower premiums on average but drug deductibles were 37% higher on average.

Despite the averages, there was considerable variation in Medicare Advantage premiums among the 25 counties analyzed. Three counties in South Dakota (Ziebach, Buffalo, and Todd) all had average premiums for Medicare Advantage plans that were twice as high as the national average. In contrast, Medicare Advantage plans in Hancock Tennessee had average premiums that were 83% lower than the national average.

While the poorest counties were similar to the nation with respect to the availability of $0 premium Medicare Advantage plans, half of the counties that had $0 premium plans were limited to $0 premium options that provided no prescription drug coverage.

As was the case for premiums, the average drug deductible also varied considerably among the counties examined. While the average drug deductible in the 25 poorest counties was $178, Johnson County and Hancock County Georgia had an average drug deductible of $289. Madison County Idaho, had the lowest average drug deductible for Medicare Advantage plans at $40.

"With 10,000 seniors aging into the Medicare program a day and many on fixed incomes," said Kev Coleman, Head of Research & Data at HealthPocket, "industry analysts and government researchers must remain vigilant in monitoring Medicare insurance costs. Medicare Advantage, one of the most popular Medicare insurance options, can be very cost competitive but we found that there are pronounced regional disparities in average premiums and drug deductibles."

The analysis examined the plans without any premium or cost-sharing reductions given to qualifying individuals through the Low Income Subsidy program. The analysis also excluded Special Needs Plans with restricted eligibility criteria. The full results of the study can be read at "Medicare Advantage in Poorest Counties Average Lower Premiums but Higher Deductibles than Nation." is a free website that compares and ranks all health insurance plans, helping individuals, families, and small businesses to make their best health plan decisions. HealthPocket publishes health insurance market analyses and other consumer advocacy research. HealthPocket's research is nonpartisan and uses only objective data from government, non-profit, and private sources that carry no conditions that might restrict the site from serving as an unbiased resource. HealthPocket, Inc. is independently managed and based in Sunnyvale, California. Learn more at

For more information, please contact Ryan Hughes, Shirley & Banister Public Affairs at [email protected] or 703-739-5920/800-536-5920.


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SOURCE HealthPocket