Medicare Open Enrollment Starts Sunday, Premiums Will Rise 11 Percent On Average

U.S. News & World Report/HealthDay News reports that seniors who participate in Medicare Part D's will likely notice significant changes during this year's open enrollment period, which begins Nov. 15. "Monthly premiums will rise 11 percent to $38.94, on average, according to an analysis published by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. That's up 50 percent from 2006, the first year that Medicare Part D drug benefits were offered." Seniors can enroll in a private prescription drug plans if they're enrolled in traditional Medicare or if they have Medicare Advantage, they can get Part D benefits through that plan. "Seniors will get little relief, however, from cost-sharing requirements." In addition, costs resulting from the Part D "donut hole" will increase, "starting after a beneficiary has incurred $2,830 in drug spending. Coverage resumes for drug costs above $6,440." U.S. News also notes that "The House of Representatives on Nov. 7 passed a sweeping health reform bill that provides gap relief beginning in 2010 and eliminates the gap by 2019. However, the Senate must act before any health reform legislation is enacted" (Pallarito, 11/13). In a separate story, U.S. News & World Report reports on broader changes to the Medicare program (Moeller, 11/13).

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