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Do You Qualify For The Medicare Savings Program?

I would imagine, if you are like most retirees (both in

New Hampshire and around the Nation), you have

uttered these words before:


“I’ve paid enough in taxes;

why can’t I get extra help?!”


Well, I don’t blame you for saying that; I’ve said it

myself. Whatever you may think of government and

politicians, much of what they do, while difficult for me to

say, is done with the best of intentions in mind. That

includes designing programs to help people when times

are tough.


Whether it’s Medicaid, subsidized housing, food

stamps, and myriad other programs- these programs are

designed to help those who are the most in need. While

these programs are developed to paint a broad brush on

those “most in need,” oftentimes, there are folks who fall

through the cracks.


While retirees may have paid taxes all their lives,

these programs generally have restrictions that are based

on income and assets. Government officials refer to these

restrictions as Means Testing, because there is no simple

way to determine who is in need of assistance.

Many of these programs are funded through state

and federal tax dollars, with the state generally

administering the day-to-day program operations. In my

opinion, we have gone substantially overboard in the

sheer number of programs that are offered to assist

those in need.


Now, don’t let that make you believe that I don’t care to help those in need. Oftentimes, in our urgency to help others, we throw money at problems, and it ends up not being enough money, too much money, or the impact of the programs seem to have no

real MEANINGFUL impact.


I want to highlight a program that affects most New

Hampshire retirees who are on Medicare: the Medicare

Savings Program (MSP). This program is funded by the

state and federal governments and generally

administered through the Department of Health and

Humans Services and is designed to offer assistance for

Medicare-related expenses. Medicare beneficiaries who meet

certain means-testing criteria could qualify for the incredible

benefits of this program. For instance, an individual

cannot have more than $9,090 in cash assets, while a

couple cannot have more than $13,630.


As far as the income criteria, there is an extensive

range of income amounts, but generally, if, as an

individual, your monthly income falls below $1,641 or, as a

couple, your combined monthly income falls below

$2,219, you could qualify for this program.

If you do qualify for this program, some of the

incredible benefits you could receive are: no longer

having to pay your Part B premium, which currently

stands at $164.90 monthly—receiving credit towards your

Part D Drug Plan, which could give you a $0

premium—lowered prescription drug co-pays of not

more than $4.30 for generics and $10.35 for brand names.


If you were being assessed, a late enrollment penalty for

Part B or Part D will be suspended while you qualify for

the program. Lastly, if you are broke enough, you may

qualify to have your medical co-pays and coinsurances

fully paid under the program.


What’s remarkable is that, according to the most

recent numbers, only 8% of eligible New Hampshire

retirees are on the program. In my experience, the reason

for this is simply lack of awareness. Sometimes, it’s pride

that keeps people from looking for extra help, but what I

have to say to that is “pride goeth before the fall.”

In the 14 years that I have been serving seniors, most

of the government programs I have seen- do not have

nearly the MEANINGFUL impact that the Medicare

Savings Program has had on retirees.


Seriously, ask yourself: what could be a better

measure of a program’s success than when a retiree,

having now qualified for this program, looks in their bank

account and sees that they are no longer paying, on

average, the $2,300 a year in Medicare premiums, or their

other medical expenses?


Nothing jazzes me more than to know that after

we’ve asked all the right questions and found that a

client qualifies for this program, the MEANINGFUL

impact it will have on their life.


Sadly, the state of New Hampshire has very low

income and asset guidelines, which makes it difficult for

retirees to qualify for this program. There are six states in

the Nation that have higher guidelines, allowing more

retirees to qualify for this program, including our

neighbor, the state of Maine.


My team and I are working

diligently to petition the New Hampshire State

Legislature and the Governor to reassess this program

and make some MEANINGFUL updates that will make a

substantial difference in the lives of New Hampshire

retirees.


In the meantime, don’t make any assumptions about

whether you qualify for the program. Contact Hometown

Senior Solutions, and we will evaluate your circumstances

for free.


—Brad Dyer is CEO/Founder of Hometown Senior

Solutions, an Agency that specializes in providing

expertise to seniors primarily around Medicare Health

Plan options and many other issues seniors wrestle with.


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