With Extra Help, seniors can pay as little as $1.10 for generics and $3 for brand name drugs. The Extra Help program also eliminates premiums and annual deductibles. Currently the Extra Help program provides assistance to more than nine million senior and disabled Americans -- saving them an average of almost $4,000 a year on their Medicare prescription drug plan costs. You can apply for Extra Help online at the Social Security Web site.
"The changes in the Medicare law that take effect this month will allow hundreds of thousands of Americans who are struggling to pay their prescription drug costs to get extra help during these tough economic times," said Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue in a press release announcing the program. "I am thrilled that Chubby Checkers has volunteered to help us spread this important message through a new television, radio, and Internet spot as well as pamphlets and posters."
"A new twist in the law makes it easier than ever to save on your medicare prescription drug costs," Chubby Checkers says in the ad. "It's easier than learning the twist."
In order to qualify for Extra Help, people must meet certain resource and income limits. Income limits for Extra Help are $16,245 a year for singles and $21,855 for married couples living together. Assets such as stocks, bonds and bank accounts must be limited to $12,510 for singles and $24,010 for married couples. The value of your home and automobile are excluded.
The new twist in the Medicare law eases the income requirements in two ways:
- It eliminates the cash value of life insurance from counting as a resource.
- It eliminates the assistance people receive from others to pay for household expenses, such as food, rent, mortgage or utilities, from counting as income.
There's also another new twist in the application for Extra Help. When you apply, you can now start the application process for Medicare Savings Programs, which are state programs that provide help with other Medicare costs. These programs help pay Medicare Part B (medical insurance) premiums. For some people, the Medicare Savings Programs also pay Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) premiums, if any, and Part A and B deductibles and co-payments.
Lita Epstein has written more than 25 books, including The Pocket Idiot's Guide to Medicare Part D and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Social Security and Medicare.