Mainers on Medicare: This program could save you money and cut your drug costs

Posted March 06, 2014, at 12:55 p.m.
Last modified March 06, 2014, at 2:56 p.m.

If you knew there was money out there with your name on it, would you ignore it? Of course not, yet many seniors eligible for the Medicare Savings Program have not enrolled.

There is no dispute that we are living in very difficult times. For some seniors just barely surviving on fixed incomes, the making of tough choices is a daily occurrence.

But for Medicare beneficiaries who qualify, the program, also known as the “buy-in,” has the potential to make life much easier. They can save money and the program will help them pay for prescription drugs.

There are different levels of the program, each with qualifying criteria. Each one pays for the monthly Medicare Part B premium. Copays for drugs can be as low as $3 for generics and $6 for brand-name medications.

One level of the the program called Qualified Medicare Beneficiary pays for the Part B premium and significantly discounts prescription drugs, also acting as a supplement to handle the 20 percent that Medicare does not cover if used with a MaineCare provider.

To qualify for one of the Medicare Savings Program levels, the eligibility guideline is as follows: For a single person, monthly income must be between $1,437 and $1,777; for a married couple, between $1,936 and $2,394. There are liquid asset tests with this program so call for details.

The Department of Health and Human Services determines eligibility but Eastern Area Agency on Aging can help you get started. Agency staff never want anyone to rule themselves out of a program because their individual numbers are near the limit. You never know what can happen, so call Eastern Area Agency on Aging or your local area agency on aging and check out the Medicare Savings Program. We want to talk to all Medicare beneficiaries who fall in the above range, and even those a bit above or below because there may be other variables at work that determine eligibility.

If you did not qualify in the past, keep in mind that the eligibility figures have changed. If you were dropped from the program and are having trouble paying for prescriptions, call us. We may be able to help you with your medication costs.

You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Carol Higgins Taylor is director of community education at Eastern Area Agency on Aging.

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