New Law Equals Medicare Savings

The “Extra Help” and the “Medicare Savings Programs” now allow more people with Medicare to pay $2.50 for generics drugs, $6.30 for brand name drugs, never experience the “donut hole” and to get help from the State of Hawai‘i in paying for their Medicare Part A and/ or B Premiums.

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 that you 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 Medicare members as much as $3,900 per year.

People Qualify and Don’t Even Know It

The new law will allow more people to qualify for “Extra Help” and the “Medicare Savings Programs.” Even if you were turned down for “Extra Help” or for the “Medicare Savings Programs” in the past, you should reapply. If you qualify, you’ll get help paying for Medicare prescription drug coverage premiums, co-payments and deductibles and Medicare premiums.

To qualify, you must make less than $16,821 a year (or $22,626 for married couples). Even if your annual income is higher, you still may be able to get some extra help with your drug coverage. 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. (Medicare Savings Programs asset levels are $6,600 for a single person and $9,910 for a couple)

There’s No Cost or Obligation to Apply

It’s easy and free to apply for “Extra Help” and the “Medicare Savings Programs.” You, a family member, trusted counselor or caregiver can apply online at 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.

You can also call Sage PLUS, the Hawai‘i State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP), at 586-7299 or 1-888-875-9229 to reach a certified counselor in your area.

For an application for the Medicare Savings Programs you can call your local Med-QUEST Office at 808-524-3370 or 1-800-316-8005. All the information you give is confidential.

Now it’s even easier to qualify for “Extra Help” from Medicare and get help from the State of Hawai‘i in paying for Medicare premiums. A new law changed how your income and assets are counted in 2010:

• Life insurance policies don’t count as resources (for prescription drug assistance).

• Household expenses—like food, mortgage, rent, heating fuel or gas, electricity, water, and property taxes—paid by relatives, friends and others do not count as income.

• Asset amounts are now higher to receive assistance from the State of Hawai‘i in paying for the Medicare Part A/B Premiums, also known as the Medicare Savings Programs (MSP).

• If you apply for the “Extra Help” through Social Security, your application will automatically be sent to the State of Hawai‘i for consideration.


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