Health 12-18

The open enrollment period for Medicare Part D prescription drug plans-the window during which beneficiaries can sign up for a plan or switch to a new one-ends on 12/31. Bill Pate, a counselor with the Health Insurance Counseling Assistance Program (HICAP) program, said some beneficiaries are calling in upset over the sharp increase in premiums for 2009-on average a 24 percent spike and, in one case, as high as 51 percent.

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