Experts foresee big premium increases for Medicare drug plan

(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) – Rising drug costs are starting to hit Medicare’s popular prescription program, and experts say many seniors are looking at higher premiums as time runs out on this year’s open enrollment season.

Beneficiaries have until Dec. 7 to see if there’s a lower-cost plan that will cover their medications in 2016.

A study by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation finds that the average premium for a stand-alone Medicare drug plan will jump by 13 percent from 2015 to 2016.

After years of stable premiums, consumer advocates say for this sign-up season, it likely will pay to shop around.

Government spending on the program also has risen significantly, driven by pricey new drugs for a range of conditions. One example: Medicare estimates that hepatitis C drugs are costing $9.2 billion this year.

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