Serving nearly 50 million people in the United States, Medicare is a health insurance plan for people who are age 65 or older, or who have been disabled for more than 24 months. Managed by the Federal Government through the Department of Health and Human Services within the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, this health plan also offers assistance programs for individuals or families with limited income and resources. There are four different Medicare Savings Programs that help pay for premiums and out-of-pocket costs and are offered based on varying levels of eligibility requirements.

Consider these key questions to find out how Medicare works for low income individuals and families.

Do I qualify for Medicare’s Extra Help Savings Program?

To determine whether or not you qualify for an Extra Help program, consider your income and assets. Review the chart below and remember that even if you are slightly over the limit, you can still apply.


What are the four types of Medicare Savings Programs?

The programs include Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB), Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary (SLMB), Qualified Individual (QI) and finally, Qualified Disabled and Working Individual (QDWI).  Each program claims a certain set of criteria that may vary based on the state you reside.


How can I receive help with Medicare Part D costs?

If you qualify for any of the Extra Help programs listed above, you may be eligible to get help with your prescription drug expenses. If you qualify, you will likely not have to pay premiums or deductibles and additionally, you can join a Medicare Part D plan at any time without a penalty fee. If you do not qualify for Extra Help, you can still seek help lowering your drugs costs by considering:

  • Your State Pharmaceutical Assistance Program (SPAP)
  • Certified charity foundations for specific medications
  • Switching from brand name to generic medications
  • Patient Assistance Programs via Medicare Part D plans