Published Online: Sunday, April 1, 2007

Seniors who "lock in" Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage during the coming year may find themselves locked in to rising costs and reduced coverage for the medications they need, warned researchers at Consumers Union (CU).

Over one fourth of the private insurance plans surveyed in various communities across the country increased their charges for selected drugs by anywhere from 5% to >30% during 2006.

CU's survey found that 78% of the plans changed their costs for the selected drugs 3 or more times during 2006, and that 30% increased their costs during at least 6 out of the 12 months.

CU officials cited these unexpected cost increases as evidence of the need for new legislation requiring Medicare to negotiate lower prices from drug manufacturers, and for requirements that prescription plans offer consistently priced coverage for seniors.

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