Higher Copays Seen For Medicare Brandname Drugs

Source: The Huffington Post

WASHINGTON — With three weeks left for seniors to change their Medicare prescription plan for 2012, a new study brings distressing news: Copays for brand-name drugs are going up – sharply in some cases.

Copays for preferred brand-name drugs will increase by 40 percent on average next year, and non-preferred brands will average nearly 30 percent more, according to the study by Avalere Health. Copays are the portion of the cost of each prescription that the customer pays the pharmacy.

Avalere, a data analysis firm that serves industry and government, says its findings show that Medicare prescription plans are steadily shifting costs to chronically ill patients who need more expensive kinds of medications. At the same time, the plans are trying to keep costs in check for the majority whose conditions can be managed with less-expensive generics.

The changing scene underscores how important it is for seniors to check their prescription coverage before open enrollment ends Dec. 7.

Medicare announced this summer that premiums for prescription plans would remain unchanged next year, an average of about $30 a month. But the government’s numbers didn’t delve into detail on copays. The Avalere study shows that the plan with the lowest monthly premium may not always be the best deal.

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