One-Stop Shopping for Medicare Beneficiaries?

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<p>Medicare will soon offer outpatient prescription drug coverage as one of its benefits. But the law overhauling Medicare will also add a great deal of complexity and confusion to beneficiaries' health coverage and, many say, still falls short of providing what beneficiaries need.<br><br>In response, a group of policy analysts are now calling for a new comprehensive benefit option for the traditional fee-for-service Medicare program. Under a new proposal outlined today in a <a href="/cnlib/pub/enews_clickthrough.htm?enews_item_id=18864&return_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Ecmwf%2Eorg%2Fpublications%2Fpublications%5Fshow%2Ehtm%3Fdoc%5Fid%3D302930%26%23doc302930"><em>Health Affairs</em> Web Exclusive,</a> beneficiaries who choose to enroll in the option, dubbed "Medicare Extra," would no longer need to purchase a private drug plan as well as Medigap supplemental coverage to meet their coverage needs. The article, "Medicare Extra: A Comprehensive Benefits Option For Medicare Beneficiaries," was written by Fund president Karen Davis, Marilyn Moon of the American Institutes for Research, former Fund staff member Barbara Cooper, and Fund senior vice president Cathy Schoen.<br><br>The new option provides comprehensive benefits similar to the main plan covering federal employees. There is no gap, or "doughnut hole," in prescription drug benefits, and beneficiaries are protected from catastrophic out-of-pocket costs, not only for prescription drugs but for hospital and physician services as well. "The new Medicare 'Part E' would help beneficiaries get the benefits they want at a lower cost than supplemental Medigap coverage, with less confusion and complexity," the authors say.</p>