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More seniors get extra help with drug costs

Changes to Medicare mean more people will receive financial assistance to cover prescriptions.

By Karen Datko Jan 13, 2010 5:48PM

This post comes from Mark Huffman at partner site ConsumerAffairs.com.

 

Seniors struggling to stay on a budget may get a little extra help from the government if they are enrolled in a Medicare prescription drug plan.

 

The Social Security Administration says a change in the law makes it easier to qualify for extra help with Medicare prescription drug costs. The extra help program provides assistance to more than 9 million senior and disabled Americans, saving them an average of almost $4,000 a year on their Medicare prescription drug plan costs.

To apply for extra help, the agency has provided an online application at www.socialsecurity.gov.

 

"The changes in the Medicare law that take effect this month will allow hundreds of thousands of Americans who are struggling to pay their prescription drug costs to get extra help during these tough economic times," Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue said.

To qualify for the extra help, people must meet certain resource and income limits. (You'll find additional information here.) The new Medicare law eases those requirements in two ways, Astrue said.

 

First, it eliminates the cash value of life insurance from counting as a resource. Second, it eliminates the assistance people receive from others to pay for household expenses, such as food, rent, mortgage or utilities, from counting as income.

There also is another important twist in the law. The application for extra help can now start the application process for Medicare Savings Programs -- state programs that provide help with other Medicare costs.

 

These programs help pay Medicare Part B (medical insurance) premiums. For some people, the Medicare Savings Programs also pay Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) premiums, if any, and Part A and B deductibles and co-payments.

 

Related reading at ConsumerAffairs.com:

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