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Issues on Aging: Saving Money

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QMB. SLMB. QI. QDWI. All MSP's.

There you go--now you know all about them--whatever they are. Let's start at the end of the list.

Medicare Savings Plans (MSP) are programs designed to help qualified individuals with the costs of their Medicare plans, such as premiums, co-pays and so on.

If you like to collect acronyms and what they mean:

  • QMB=Qualified Medicare Beneficiary Program
  • SLMB=Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary Program
  • QI=Qualified Individual Program
  • QDWI=Qualified Disabled and Working Individuals Program

Feel smarter? To many of us, the names mean a lot less than what they actually do, that is, how can these programs actually help you?

Depending on the program, premiums for Medicare Part A, Part B, or both may be reduced or paid. And again, depending on the program, eligibility differs. Space limits going into each of these in great detail, so we're just going to look at an overview and general income and assets guidelines.

If you're more into the details, go to www.medicare.gov, enter Medicare Savings Programs in the search window. Each program is explained regarding coverage and eligibility standards.

For our purposes today, let's take a look at general eligibility--while being aware that if your income/assets are higher, but close, you still might want to apply. Given that the current standard Part B premium is about $134/month, any savings helps.

Currently, the income/assets eligibility levels are:

  • Single Person: Less than $1357/month with assets less than $7390
  • Couple: $1827/month with assets less than $11090

If you qualify, saving that monthly premium amount can really come in handy, and this is a no-cost program, by the way. Just a couple more things for today: If you qualify for QMB, SLMB, or QI, you also qualify for Extra Help which could reduce your Medicare Part D (prescription) costs.

Lastly, in the process of applying for MSP, you may hear that it's a Medicaid program. You also may have heard that Medicaid has estate recovery attached to it-that is, a lien on your home for services. Estate Recovery does not apply to MSP's.

OK then. Ready to go out and see if you can save some money? You can go online to the aforementioned medicare.gov, search out MSP's as noted, and follow the trail for an application, or contact either of the numbers at the end of this column and you can talk to real people who do this a lot--also a no-cost program!

Information & Assistance

Long Beach: 642 3634/888 571 6558 Raymond: 942 2177/888 571 6557

www.o3a.org

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