Medicare’s extra help program lowers price of medications

Making ends meet should not mean going without your medications. If you have limited income and resources, Medicare’s “Extra Help” program sets it up so this year 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 estimate that more than 2 million people with Medicare may be eligible for the subsidy but are not currently enrolled to take advantage of these savings.

A recent law changed how income and assets are counted. Life insurance policies do not count as resources. Any help you get from relatives, friends and others to pay for household expenses – like food, mortgage, rent, heating fuel or gas, electricity, water and property taxes – does not count as income.

After these changes in 2010, many people qualify for the program and don’t know it. Even if you were previously turned down for “Extra Help” due to income or resource levels, you should reapply. You could get help paying for Medicare prescription drug coverage premiums, copayments and deductibles. To qualify, you must make less than $16,335 a year (or $22,065 for married couples). Even if your annual income is higher, you still may be able to get some extra help. Your resources must also be limited to $12,640 (or $25,260 for married couples). Resources include bank accounts, stocks and bonds.

There’s no cost or obligation to apply – it’s easy and free. Apply at or call at 1-800-772-1213. Medicare beneficiaries can also receive assistance in their local communities from their State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP), Area Agencies on Aging (AAA), the Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRC) and many tribal organizations.

For information about how to contact these organizations, go to To learn more about prescription drug coverage, go to, or call 1-800-633-4227. TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048. This information was prepared by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (NewsUSA) â–