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    Health Care Reform:

    Health Insurance & Affordable Care Act

    How to Pay for What Medicare Doesn’t Cover

    More Ways to Lower Your Costs continued...

    Medicare Extra Help Program: This program helps low-income Medicare beneficiaries pay for their prescription drugs. If you qualify for QMB, SLMB, QI, or QDWI, as described above, you automatically get Extra Help.

    Pharmacy Assistance Programs. Some states offer programs that will help you pay for medications. Many drug companies run similar programs themselves.

    Cheaper drugs. To lower your expenses, ask your doctor or pharmacist if a cheaper generic drug might work as well as a brand-name medication.

    Additional insurance. Depending on your needs, it might make sense to pay for an extra health care policy. You could get a policy for a specific need, like dental care.

    Veterans' benefits. If you've served in the military, veterans' benefits may cover some expenses that Medicare doesn't, like prescription drugs. 

    Long-term care planning. A lot of people think that Medicare covers long-term care -- in a nursing home, for instance -- but it doesn't. Medicaid usually does, but you must have a very low income and low assets to qualify. One possibility is buying long-term care insurance, which will pay at least some of the costs. However, most experts suggest buying it early -- between ages 52 and 64 when the costs will be lower.

    Expert advice. Every state has a State Health Insurance Assistance Program, called SHIP. An advisor there can help you figure out if you need more than just Medicare.

    Call Medicare at 800-633-4227 to find the number for the SHIP in your state. Or go to and pick your state in the pull-down menu called "Find someone to talk to."

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