Medicare Costs Up 329% In 3 Years

The costs for people with a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (PDP) continue to go up. They will go up 43% this year and have gone up 329% in the past 3 years according to a front page article in the USA Today (11/12/08). That’s the bad news.

What’s the good news – The program has cost us taxpayers less than originally estimated mostly due to the use of generic drugs.

Monthly premiums are going up to $37.10 next year according to Avalere Health. This is up from $26.03 in 2006. Members have also seen their copays go up from $1 to more than $13 (hopefully not for generics).

Open enrollment for the benefit starts 11/15. Right now there are 17M members in the PDP programs and 9M in Medicare Advantage programs that cover health and prescriptions.

There has traditionally been low “churn” among members. I wonder if this will continue. Medicare spokesman Jeff Nelligan says that most beneficiaries should be able to find a plan that is the same price or cheaper if they are willing to change.

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