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Humana rebrands Part D drug plan with Wal-Mart

The company is looking to attract an even larger portion of the senior population, particularly to its more lucrative Medicare Advantage line.

By Emily Berry — Posted Oct. 19, 2010

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Humana, a major player in the Medicare drug plan and Medicare Advantage marketplace, has rebranded its basic drug plan in partnership with Wal-Mart stores, hoping to capture an even bigger piece of the Medicare population.

The Louisville-based insurer announced Oct. 1 that beginning next year, it will offer a Part D drug plan with a $14.80-per-month premium in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid estimates that the average monthly premium for a stand-alone plan will be $30 in 2011.

The Humana Wal-Mart Preferred Rx Plan will be the least expensive Part D stand-alone drug plan in the country in 2011, according to the companies' estimates based on CMS data.

When customers fill prescriptions at Wal-Mart or wholesale sister store Sam's Club, co-pays will be as low as $2, and filling generic prescriptions through Humana's mail-order program will mean no co-pay, the companies' news release said.

"People are more likely to take the medications prescribed for them when they can afford those medications," William Fleming, PharmD, vice president of Humana Pharmacy Solutions, said in a news release. "Adhering to prescription-drug regimens can enable people to be healthier and prevent future illness."

As of June 30, Humana covered 1.8 million in stand-alone Medicare Part D drug plans, down 10% compared with a year earlier. In reporting its second-quarter results, Humana said enrollment in stand-alone plans was down in part because it had raised prices to make up for more expensive claims.

In a Sept. 22 note to investors, Credit Suisse investment analyst Charles Boorady said Humana hopes the rebranded plan will bring the company higher enrollment not only in Part D plans but also in more lucrative Medicare Advantage plans.

Humana spokesman Jim Turner declined to say how many enrollees the company wants or expects to attract, "other than to say we expect this to be a popular choice for people with Medicare, especially those who seek the lowest possible premium."

Nationally, 27.1 million Medicare beneficiaries were enrolled in stand-alone drug plans, and 11.3 million were signed up for Medicare Advantage plans in 2010, according the Kaiser Family Foundation.

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