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New Law Makes It Easier to Save on Prescription Costs
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Making ends meet shouldn’t mean going without your medications.

If you have limited income and resources, Medicare’s “Extra Help” program sets it up so you can pay no more than $2.50 for each generic drug and $6.30 for each brand-name drug. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services estimates that “Extra Help” can save participating seniors as much as $3,900 per year.

Now it’s even easier to qualify for “Extra Help” from Medicare. A new law changed how your income and assets are counted in 2010:

Life insurance policies don’t count as resources.

Help you get from relatives, friends and others to pay for property 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 Even Know It

These changes mean that more people than ever will now qualify for “Extra Help.” Even if you were turned down for “Extra Help” before, you should reapply. If you qualify, you’ll get help paying for Medicare prescription drug coverage premiums, copayments and deductibles.

To qualify, you must make less than $16,245 a year (or $21,855 for married couples). Even if your income is higher, you may still be able to get some extra help. Your resources must also be limited to $12,510 (or $25,010 for married couples). Resources include bank accounts, stocks and bonds, but not your house or car.

There Is No Cost or Obligation to Apply

It’s easy and free to apply for “Extra Help.” You or a family member, trusted counselor or caregiver can apply online at socialsecurity prescription or call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY users should call 1-800-325-0778) and ask for the “Application for Help with Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Costs.” All the information you give is confidential.

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