Part D Extra Help continued...
Your assets, which include savings, stocks, or bonds, must be less than $13,300 if you're only getting coverage for yourself, and less than $26,580 for a couple. These values are for 2013 and may be different in 2014.
If you qualify for any of the Medicare savings programs, you automatically qualify for the Part D Extra Help program. You also automatically qualify if you have Medicare and Medicaid -- that is, you are dual eligible.
You can apply online on the Social Security web site. Or you can call Social Security at 800-772-1213 or go to your local Social Security office. You also can apply by contacting your local department of human services.
You may have to wait up to 4 months to find out if you qualify. If you do, you'll get a letter saying so. Then, you may get money back for any premiums you paid while you waited.
This is low or no-cost health care for people with very low incomes or assets. It covers lots of benefits that Medicare doesn't. It is set up by the federal government, but it's run by the states. The program varies from state to state.
To qualify for Medicaid, you must have a low income and have difficulty paying your medical bills. In 2013, for most people that means you can make no more than $11,490 a year if you're single, $15,510 for a couple, or $23,550 for a family of four. (The amounts are higher if you live in Alaska or Hawaii.)
For more details on Medicaid and how to apply, use the insurance and coverage finder at healthcare.gov.
More Help for Lowering Medicare Costs
If you do not qualify for one of the programs described above, you may be able to lower your Medicare spending by joining a Medicare Advantage Plan. If you remain in the traditional Medicare program, you may be able to lower spending by buying a Medicare supplemental plan, which is also called a Medigap plan.
If you need help, the Medicare Rights Center has trained counselors to help you find financial aid. You can call the helpline at 800-333-4114 on weekdays.