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Medicare Part D Advantage costs rising in 2010

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WASHINGTON (10/26/09)--If you’re enrolled in Medicare Part D, expect to see a significant increase in your out-of-pocket costs. In 2010, average premiums for Medicare Part D will increase by 7% to $30 a month. The average cost for Medicare Advantage plans will increase by 22% to $39 a month (US News & World Report Oct. 13). Premiums aren’t the only items that are increasing. More stand-alone drug plans will have deductibles and more will have coverage gaps starting in 2010. Medicare Advantage plans also are increasing co-pays, and not all providers participate in the plans. Even if you’re happy with your current coverage, you should be prepared for other changes. For example, many insurers are changing formularies--the lists of medications that they’ll help you pay for--and you may have to pay more for a medication if your insurer switches your drug from preferred to non-preferred. Some tips to handle rising costs:
*Take advantage of this year’s open enrollment period. You have from Nov. 15 through Dec. 31 to examine all the prescription drug plans your state offers. *Analyze your options for Medicare Part D. Fortunately, you can get expert help making this analysis. The U.S. Department of Health and Social Services offers a Medicare prescription drug plan finder. Visit Medicare.gov and click on “Compare Drug Plans.” Type in your drugs and dosages, and see the total out-of-pocket costs for your medications throughout the year. Or, call 800-633-4227 for personalized assistance (Kiplinger’s Oct. 8). *Consider Medicare Advantage. Medicare Advantage (also known as Medicare health plans) is an alternative to paying for the combination of Medicare Part B, a Part D prescription-drug plan, and a medigap policy. To find out about prices and coverage for plans in your area, go to Medicare.gov and click on “Compare Health Plans.”
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