Medicare’s Extra Help program

     Medicare’s benefits not only reduce to Original Medicare Part A and Part B, Part C and Part D and Medigap policies. They also have some programs that were made to help people with low income and that have problems paying their premiums and out-of-pocket costs. In this article we will talk about Medicare’s Extra Help program which helps people paying their Medicare prescription drug coverage.

What is Extra Help?

Medicare’s Extra Help is a program created by Medicare to help people pay Medicare prescription drug program (Part D) costs. The program could pay for monthly premiums, annual deductibles and copayments. To receive the benefits of Extra Help you must be a person with limited income and resources. It is estimated that Extra Help is worth around $4.900 annually.

How do I know if I qualify to receive Extra Help benefits?

      You qualify for Medicare’s Extra Help program if you have a yearly income of up to $18,210 and resources up to $14,100. In case you are a married couple your yearly income must not be above $24,690 and your resources must not be above $28,150. These are 2018’s numbers. This money doesn’t include paying premiums for something like an Aetna Medicare supplement.

Countable resources include stocks, bonds, mutual funds, Individual Retirement Accounts, bank accounts including checking, savings and certificates of deposit, and real estate other than your primary residence.

Countable resources do not include your primary residence, personal possessions, vehicles, property you need for self-support, life insurance policies, burial expenses, certain money you are holding which is not counted for nine months, like housing assistance or retroactive Social Security income payments.

In case you do not qualify for Extra Help, there could be local programs in your state that can help you pay for prescription drugs, so contact Medicare in your state to find out. There are some people who automatically qualify for Extra Help.

How do I know if automatically qualify for Medicare’s Extra Help program?

You automatically qualify for Extra Help if any of the following apply to you: you have Medicaid’s full coverage, you get Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits or you get help from your state’s Medicaid program to pay your Part B premiums.

Take into consideration that even if you automatically qualify this year, you may not qualify in the future due to changes in your income or resources that will cause you to stop receiving benefits from the three programs mentioned in the paragraph above. This does not mean that you don’t qualify at all, but in case you do, you will have to apply for the program.

What are the benefits of Medicare’s Extra Help program?

If you have Extra Help, costs of prescription drugs are lower. In 2018, costs are no more than $3.35 for each generic covered drug and no more than $8.35 for each brand-name covered drug.

Depending on your income level, you may also get help paying a portion of your Medicare drug plan’s monthly premiums and annual deductibles.

In case you enrolled to Medicare Part D after your Initial Enrollment Period and you are paying a late enrollment penalty, Extra Help will pay the penalty for you.

How do I apply for Medicare’s Extra Help program?

     You can apply for Extra Help online in the web of Social Security, you can apply over phone by calling Social Security or you can do it at your local Social Security office. After you do it, you will receive a letter that says if you qualify and you will be asked to choose a Medicare Part D plan.

In case you want to know the level of Extra Help you are entitled to, you will be asked to provide some documents, like a purple notice from Medicare that says you automatically qualify for Extra Help.

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