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Golden State Carriers Expand Medicare Offerings

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Health Net Inc. and Blue Shield of California say they will be adding Medicare plans in 2007.

Health Net, Thousand Oaks, Calif., says it will be selling stand-alone Medicare drug coverage in 50 states and the District of Columbia in 2007, up from 10 states this year.

The company also will introduce “special needs plans” for Medicare beneficiaries with chronic health problems and Medicare private fee-for-service plans in California, Connecticut, Hawaii, New Mexico, New York, Texas and Washington.

In many markets, Health Net will improve “doughnut hole” benefits for members of Medicare managed care plans that offer drug benefits.

The doughnut hole represents the gap between the end of routine Medicare drug coverage benefits and the start of protection against catastrophic drug expenses.

Meanwhile, Blue Shield, San Francisco, says it will be working with Brown & Toland Medical Group, San Francisco, to add a Medicare health maintenance organization with prescription drug benefits for San Francisco residents.

The monthly premium will be $63.90, Blue Shield says.

Blue Shield offers Medicare HMOs in Southern California, but the new plan will be its first Medicare HMO in Northern California, the company says.