Medicare officials have announced plans to increase prescription premiums by $1, or about 3 percent, next year. Monthly premiums will cost beneficiaries about $30. However, because Medicare prescription plans vary in coverage and cost, consumer advocates have urged seniors to consult their individual plans. Seniors can compare plans with help form the online plan finder on the Medicare website.

The increase will be accompanied by an improvement in benefits, and those with high-cost prescriptions should see a significant reduction in their costs. Health reform will close the “doughnut hole” drug coverage gap, and beneficiaries in the gap will receive a 50 percent discount on brand name drugs, 7 percent off generics. Eventually, reform will close the gap completely by 2020.