Higher copays seen for Medicare brand-name drugs

By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR | November 16, 2011 | 2:20 PM EST

WASHINGTON (AP) — With three weeks left for seniors to change their Medicare prescription plan for 2012, a study finds copays for brand-name drugs are going up — in some cases sharply.

The report Wednesday from Avalare Health found that 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. Copays are the portion of drug costs paid by patients.

Copays for generics will remain stable for preferred drugs, and go down for non-preferred.

Monthly premiums for Medicare drug plans are expected to average about the same next year. But the copay changes underscore how important it is for seniors to check coverage before open enrollment ends Dec. 7.