Health insurers are preparing for the Nov. 15 start of the Medicare open-enrollment season.

Many of the 42 million Medicare beneficiaries will be signing up for new Medicare Advantage managed care plans, Medicare Advantage private fee-for-service plans, or Medicare Part D prescription plans during the open-enrollment season, which will last till Dec. 31.

About 10 million U.S. residents could change Medicare prescription drug plans or buy coverage for the first time between Nov. 15 and the end of 2007, according to CIGNA HealthCare, Bloomfield, Conn., a unit of CIGNA Corp., Philadelphia.

CIGNA is trying to increase interest in its CIGNATURE Rx Medicare Part D plan by introducing a new support program for brokers.

The program includes a plan cost-comparison tool, a Web site that can provide marketing materials, a Web-based enrollment system and a “competitive compensation structure,” CIGNA says.

In other Medicare news:

- Humana Inc., Louisville, Ky., which sells stand-alone Medicare drug coverage in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, says it has developed the SmartSummaryRx prescription record for Medicare program members.

The record shows how much program members paid for prescription and advice on ways to save money in the future, Humana says.

- Medical Mutual of Ohio, Cleveland, will be starting to sell 2 Medicare drug plans and 3 Medicare managed care plans.

Medical Mutual has permission to sell the drug plans throughout Ohio and the managed care plans in 30 counties, but it will start by selling the plans in Akron, Canton, Cleveland, Columbus, Toledo and Youngstown, the company says.

- Aetna Inc., Hartford, says it will be selling Medicare managed care plan coverage in 16 states and the District of Columbia in 2007, up from 13 states in 2006, and providing Medicare drug coverage for auto-enrolled beneficiaries in 36 states and the District Columbia, up from 8 states in 2006. The company will continue to sell drug coverage to individuals and employers who take active steps to sign up for coverage in all 50 states.

Aetna also is introducing Medicare fee-for-service coverage for retirees in all states and for individuals in some markets.

Aetna has signed deals with other insurers that will add 5,500 independent brokers to its Medicare distribution network, the company says.

- The Ovations unit at UnitedHealth Group Inc., Minnetonka, Minn., says it will continue to offer stand-alone prescription drug plans in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and all 5 U.S. territories. The unit also will enroll lower-income Medicare recipients and individuals who are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid in every region.

- WellPoint Inc., Indianapolis, will be supporting efforts by CVS Corp., Woonsocket, R.I., to run Medicare drug plan education programs in 5,800 CVS pharmacies in 43 states.