Help with Medicare and Drug Costs

FROM CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services):

Making ends meet should not mean going without your medications. If you have limited income and resources, Medicare’s “Extra Help” program sets it up so this year you might pay no more than $2.60 for each generic drug and $6.50 for each brand name drug.  The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services estimates that more than 2 million people with Medicare may be eligible for the subsidy, but are not currently enrolled to take advantage of these savings.  A recent law changed how your income and assets are counted:

•     Life insurance policies do not count as resources

•     Any help you get from relatives, friends and others to pay for household expenses—like food, mortgage, rent, heating fuel or gas, electricity, water, and property taxes—does not count as income

Many People Qualify and Don’t Know It

The changes that took place in 2010 allowed more people than ever to qualify for “Extra Help.” Even if you were previously turned down for “Extra Help” due to income or resource levels, you should reapply.  If you qualify, you will get help paying for Medicare prescription drug coverage premiums, copayments, and deductibles.  To qualify, you must make less than $17,235 a year (or $23,265 for married couples).  Even if your annual income is higher, you still may be able to get some extra help.  Your resources must also be limited to $13,300 (or $26,580 for married couples).  Resources include bank accounts, stocks, and bonds, but not your house or car.


If you apply for help through Social Security, there are “asset limits” that are fairly low. But if you go through the state of Arizona, no questions are asked about your assets. Arizona only asks about your income, so anyone with low income, but some money in the bank, can apply online for help through the state of Arizona.

If a person lives on less than $1,333 as an individual, or $1,958 as a married couple, they can apply for help through the state of Arizona.  The state will pay a person’s Medicare Part B premium ($104.90) and will then tell Social Security to set that person up for help with his/her prescription costs.

All applications for this help (called the Medicare Savings Program) are done on line at  Or call 602-417-5010.

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