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Do you know someone who needs help with prescription costs?

Once again the time has come for Medicare beneficiaries to sign up for, or change prescription drug plans beginning October 15 through December 7. All plans will have different costs and benefits from year to year, thus it is advisable for all beneficiaries to consider their options and make the best choice they can for the coming year.

Medicare prescription drug coverage provides greater peace of mind by protecting you from unexpected drug expenses.

Anyone who has Medicare can get Medicare prescription drug coverage. People with limited income and resources are eligible for Extra Help to pay for the costs—monthly premiums, annual deductibles, and prescription co-payments—related to a Medicare prescription drug plan. You can help someone you care about apply for Extra Help with their Medicare prescription drug costs.  Many people with limited income and resources qualify for these big savings and don’t even know it. To find out if someone is eligible, Social Security will need to know their income and the value of their savings, investments and real estate, other than their home. Those married and living with their spouse, will need this information for both of them.

In 2013, you may qualify if you have up to $17,235 in yearly income ($23,265 for a married couple) and up to $13,300 in resources ($26,580 for a married couple).  Even if your annual income is higher, you still may be able to get some help with monthly premiums, annual deductibles and prescription co-payments. Some examples where income may be higher include if they or their spouse support other family members who live with them or have earnings from work.

Resources are limited to $13,300 for an individual or $26,580 for a married couple living together. Resources include such things as bank accounts, stocks and bonds. The house and car not counted as resources.

If you haven’t received an application or information about the extra help, and you think you may qualify, you should apply. Remember, as Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Leavitt says, “If in doubt, fill it out!” You can apply online by visiting the Social Security Administration website.  If you are in need of assistance with completing the application, call the Senior LinkAge LineÒ or you may contact your local county Senior Coordinator on Aging.  After you apply, Social Security will review your application and send you a letter to let you know if you qualify for the Extra Help. Once you qualify, you can select the Medicare prescription plan of your choice.

We have received many inquiries from those on Medicare wondering what they have to do to prepare for the provisions of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare or MNSure) going into effect on January 1, 2014. The short answer is NOTHING! Minnesotans age 65 and older will continue to enroll in Medicare (and Medical Assistance) as they have in the past, rather than using MNsure.

Call the Senior LinkAge Line to learn more about the Extra Help and to learn more about the Medicare Part D drug benefit at 1-800-333-2433.

This article is made possible with Older Americans Act dollars from the Land of the Dancing Sky Area Agency on Aging.  Call the Senior LinkAge at 1-800-333-2433 to speak with an information specialist, or check out our website at is an online directory of services designed to help people in Minnesota find human services, information and referral, financial assistance, and other forms of help.

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