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Posted by on Apr 6, 2012 in Justice Served, Legislation Affecting Seniors, Senior Health | 0 comments

Medicare Beneficiaries Receive Extra Help with Rx Costs

Medicare beneficiaries who are overwhelmed by the cost of prescription drugs may be eligible for up to $4,000 per year in Federal assistance.    Elder Law & Advocacy can help these individuals to apply for the Social Security Administration‘s Extra Help program, also known as Low Income Subsidy (LIS).  The Extra Help program is aimed at lowering Part D prescription drug costs for low-income, older individuals.

Benefits of Extra Help include reduced monthly premiums and deductibles, smaller copays, elimination of the Donut Hole, and the ability to switch drug plans at any time. Beneficiaries may qualify for full or partial subsidy depending on their income and asset levels. This program can be very beneficial to individuals who exceed the income and resource limits of Medi-Cal but still struggle to cover their drug costs.

While this program is administered by the Social Security Administration, Elder Law & Advocacy’s Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program (HICAP) can  prepare and submit online applications for beneficiaries at no cost (call 1-800-434-0222). The application itself takes about ten minutes to process and beneficiaries will typically get a written determination from Social Security within two to five weeks.  Applicants also have the option to forward the application to the State and be evaluated for Medicare Savings Program (Federally funded program that pays Medicare premiums, deductibles, and coinsurance) eligibility.

Elder Law & Advocacy handles about 600 calls per year from clients with stories like this:

A client desperately needed assistance paying for the hefty copays of her vital medication.  Her assets placed her just over the qualifying limit for Medi-Cal.  She worried that she would have to choose between filling her prescription and buying food for the month, so she contacted ELA’s HICAP information line.  ELA submitted her Extra Help application, which was approved within two weeks.  She was so relieved – she would now only pay a small percentage of the cost of her medications and would no longer have to choose between basic needs and her health.

To learn more about the Extra Help or Medicare Savings Programs, call the HICAP hotline to speak to a trained Medicare counselor who can explain the benefits of the Extra Help program and submit applications on behalf of applicants – Call 1-800-434-0222

Or visit the Social Security Administration website here.  You can even watch an Extra Help video from Patty and Poppo or Chubby Checker!

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