Avalere Health says Medicare Part D to reach highest premiums ever

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COLUMBIA -  Avalere Health analysts published a report Monday showing the premium cost of many Medicare Part D plans will rise to the highest costs they've ever been in 2016.  

Part D deals with prescription medication. The report says the price increase could force many Medicare users to reconsider their plans come October.

According to Avalere, the top 10 most popular Part D plans, accounting for more than 80 percent of enrollment in standalone prescription drug plans (PDPs), will have an average premium increase of 8 percent.

The average PDP premium for all plans in 2016 will be more than $40 for the first time ever, Avalere said. Comparatively, the 2015 projection was $38.83 versus the 2016 projected $41.34.

"I'm responsible for all of my medication, and the rise in that would have a tremendous impact on my situation," said one Columbia Medicare user June Hoff. 

The director of the Columbia Senior Center said the increase will hurt a lot of people's pockets. 

"They're either going to have to make the choice of having to pay for their medication or eating, or paying some of their utility bills," Jan Palmer said. "They can't do both. We see that a lot with our seniors here." 

Palmer said most of the seniors that come through the center are taking vital drugs for their balance, Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease or high blood pressure.

"If they're having to make a choice, a lot of them will skip their medication, or take their medication every once in a while instead of the way it's directed by their physician to be take," Palmer said. 

Hoff said, "You have to give up something because it's just like a budget and anything else. If you have "x" amount of dollars, it's what you use."

However, she said she is prepared to make sacrifices as needed.

"It won't affect my health because my health comes number one to me," Hoff said. 

The health care enrollment period for 2016 begins October 15.