Published Online: Saturday, December 1, 2007

Seniors enrolled in the Medicare Part D drug program will see their monthly premiums rise by an average of 21% unless they shop around for cheaper plans, according to a new analysis by researchers at Avalere Health. The cost of the drug program for upper-income Medicare recipients, however, will rise even higher under a new plan being floated around Washington.

Avalere?s analysis of federal data released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services found that 8 of the top 10 prescription drug plan sponsors in Medicare have increased their premiums for 2008. The 2 companies holding the line on premiums are: CVS Caremark?s SilverScript plan and First Health?s Part D Premier plan, said the researchers.

The cost of drug coverage could rise even more sharply for higher income seniors under a means test proposal being considered by the Bush administration. Under the plan, Medicare beneficiaries with annual incomes of >$80,000 would be required to pay additional fees to participate in the drug program.

Sen John Ensign (R, Nev) is developing a legislative proposal incorporating the plan, which could reduce the cost of Medicare Part D to taxpayers by billions of dollars.

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