Can You Get Extra Help from Medicare?

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​​​​​​​​larger_Pills_on_counter_3.jpgMedicare is a lifesaver for many aging parents, spouses, and other seniors. But sometimes, even with Medicare, it's still difficult to pay for all of the care and drugs that they need. In some cases, aging parents may qualify for Medicare’s Extra Help program.

What is it?

Extra Help is a program from Medicare that provides extra assistance in paying for prescription drugs. Those who meet certain income and resource restrictions can apply for the program. In 2016, many people under this plan pay no more than $2.95 for generic drugs and no more than $7.40 for brand name drugs covered under the program.


The eligibility requirements may differ from year to year based on inflation and other factors, but for 2016, seniors may qualify if their yearly individual income is $17,820 or less (or $24,030 or less for married couples) and if their resources are $13,640 or less (or $27,250 if married).

So what types of things are considered resources? Basically, resources would be money that a person has in a checking or savings account, as well as any stocks and bonds. Resources would also include real estate other than that associated with one’s home. Things like a home, furniture, a car, or a burial plot are NOT considered resources.


The level of and amount of extra help a person qualifies for varies based on each situation. In a recent blog post on the subject, Jim Borland, Assistant Deputy Commissioner of Communications with Medicare, stated that Extra Help “could save you about $4,000 per year on your monthly premiums, annual deductibles and prescription co-payments.”


The first step in applying for Medicare Extra Help is to complete a Social Security form, the Application for Extra Help with Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Costs. (Click here for more information.​ ) If applying online, it can be completed in several stages, so it doesn’t have to be completed all at once.

Aging parents on a tight budget may want to look into whether Extra Help is an option for them.

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