Part D prices rise after beneficiaries are locked in


A Consumers Union analysis reveals that in the first month of 2007, after beneficiaries were locked into a plan for the calendar year, 95% of health insurance plans it analyzed in five zip codes nationwide increased their costs for five widely used prescription drugs. That number is up dramatically from 2006, when Consumers Union found that 28% of the plans it tracked increased their costs for the same group of drugs. One Florida plan increased its costs for the selected drugs by nearly one-third, or $795, in 2006. "The whole point of having Medicare drug insurance is to protect against the unexpected, and we're finding a lot of unexpected cost increases," said Bill Vaughan, senior policy analyst for Consumers Union. "Each time drug costs go up under these plans, seniors are pushed that much closer to the brink of the doughnut-hole coverage gap."

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