The costs associated with Medicare are subject to change each year. Some Medicare expenses increased in 2021 such as the premiums and deductibles for Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B. On the bright side, the average premiums for Medicare Advantage Plans and Part D prescription drug plans decreased.
If you are a senior living only on social security, we know that every penny counts. We understand how important it is to keep your Medicare expenses as low as possible. If you are a senior struggling to pay for your health care costs because of limited income, there are programs in place to help you pay for your health care expenses. As Medicare agents we hate to see kupuna worry about the cost of health care; it’s our job to connect you with all the programs you qualify for and find the plans that best fit your budget and your needs.
Top 3 ways low-income seniors can save money on Medicare expenses
Help with Medicare Part A & Part B
Most seniors qualify for Part A (hospital coverage) with no monthly premium because they or their spouse paid payroll taxes for at least 10 years. Part B (medical coverage), however, does come with a monthly premium for all seniors. The standard Part B monthly premium for 2021 is $148.50, up from $144.60 in 2020. The 2021 Part B deductible is $203, a $5 increase from 2020. (Seniors on Medicare Advantage Plans may have different expenses).
If you are low-income, you may qualify for one of several Medicare Savings Programs administered through Hawaii Medicaid offices. These plans are in place to help low-income seniors pay for their Medicare expenses. Depending on the plan you qualify for, you could have your entire Part B premium covered, as well as other out-of-pocket expenses such as copayments, deductibles, and coinsurance.
Qualification for Medicare Savings Programs is determined based on certain “countable resources” and your income. For help applying, contact your Medicare agent or call your State Medicaid program.
Change in income:
Seniors who are paying higher fees or income-related monthly adjustment amount (IRMAA) for their Part B premiums because they are considered high-income can request a review by the social security administration. If you have experienced a life-changing event such as the death of a spouse, you were laid-off, or got married or divorced and it has affected your income it is worth considering.
Help with prescription drug costs
The cost for prescription drug plans varies, though the average plan in 2021 costs $30.50. Having said that, many Part D plans include a deductible that must be paid before benefits kick in. In 2021, the maximum allowed deductible is $445, which is an increase of $10 from 2020. It’s also important to understand that there is no out-of-pocket maximum for prescription drug costs, even for those on Medicare Advantage Plans.
Here are some ways you may be able to save on your prescription drug costs:
Extra Help is a federal program that assists low-income and low-resource seniors to pay for their prescription drug costs. SSA estimates that the plan is worth about $5,000 per year.
If you qualify for a Medicare Savings Program, you will most likely automatically qualify for help with your Part D coverage.
The statewide discount prescription assistance program, called Hawaii Rx Card. This program is administered by United Networks of America and is free to all residents of Hawaii. The card provides savings of up to 75% on both brand and generic medications and is accepted at most pharmacies across the state.
Requesting generic versions of your prescription drugs.
Medicare Advantage Plans
Medicare Advantage (MA) Plans can be very affordable – the 2021 average premium is just $21, down from $24 in 2020. While Part B premiums must also be covered, some MA Plans offer a partial or full rebate of the monthly premium.
Another potential cost savings associated with MA Plans is that unlike Original Medicare, they come with annual out-of-pocket maximums.
Speak to your Medicare agent about your affordable Medicare Advantage Plan options.
Our independent insurance agents are dedicated to assisting people on Medicare and those who are ready to transition from employer coverage to personal retirement coverage. We help kupuna understand their benefits options and apply for additional coverage, as needed. Because we represent all the major Medicare Advantage and supplement plans in Hawaii, we are able to offer unbiased advice; all at no cost to our clients.
At PBC, our clients are our number one priority and we look forward to getting to know you and your needs. Call us today at (808) 738-4500 to see how we may be of assistance.