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Extra help paying for Medicare prescription drug coverage

What is this program?

Medicare provides "extra help" to pay prescription drug costs for people who meet specific income and resources limits. Resources include your savings and stocks, but not your home or car. If you qualify, you will get help paying for your Medicare drug plan's monthly Premium, yearly Deductible, and prescription Copayments. In most cases, if you get extra help, you won't pay a premium. Check with your plan. If you qualify for extra help, you won't have a coverage gap (see What is a coverage gap?).

2021 Yearly Income and Resource Limits to Qualify for Extra Help

2021 Income Resources
Single Less than $19,140.00 Less than $13,110.00
(living with spouse)
Less than $25,860.00 Less than $26,160.00

Note: The resource limits in the table above do not include the $1,500 per person burial exclusion. Therefore you would reduce your resources by $1,500 per person.

If you live in Alaska or Hawaii, or pay more than half of the living expenses of dependent family members, income limits are higher. Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa have their own rules for providing extra help to their residents. See "Programs for People who live in the U.S. Territories of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa " for more information.

How do I qualify for this program?

You automatically qualify for extra help if you have Medicare and

What happens if I automatically qualify for extra help?

Medicare mails letters to people who automatically qualify for extra help and don't need to apply for it. If you get one of these letters, keep it for your records. You still need to join a Medicare drug plan to get Medicare prescription drug coverage. If you don't join a Medicare drug plan, Medicare will enroll you in one to make sure you don't miss a day of coverage. Check to see if the plan Medicare enrolled you in covers the drugs you use and if you can go to the pharmacies you prefer. If not, you can change plans.

If Medicare enrolls you in a plan, Medicare will send you a letter letting you know when your coverage begins. If you don't want to join a Medicare drug plan (for example, because you want to keep your employer or union coverage instead), you can call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or the plan listed in your letter and tell them you don't want to be in the Part D plan. You must be in a Medicare drug plan to get this extra help.

What If you didn't automatically qualify, but think you might qualify for extra help

Here's what to do:
  1. Apply for extra help. Call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213, visit www.socialsecurity.gov on the web, or apply at your State Medical Assistance (Medicaid) office (see 1-800-MEDICARE Helpline). TTY users should call 1-800-325-0778. After you apply, you will get a letter in the mail letting you know if you qualify and what to do next. Even if you don't qualify, you should consider joining a drug plan.
  2. Join a Medicare drug plan. If you apply and qualify for extra help, you can either join a plan on your own or let Medicare enroll you in a plan. Medicare will send you a letter letting you know what plan it will enroll you in and when your coverage begins. If Medicare enrolls you in a drug plan, you can switch plans at least once through the end of the calendar year. You can also switch plans one time between October 15 and December 7 in following years. Your coverage would begin January 1 of the following year.

Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (see Other Important Medicare Contacts for their telephone number) to get answers to your questions about extra help paying for your prescription drug costs. TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.

(Primary Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services - Medicare and You Handbook. This content may have been enhanced by Q1Group LLC to include further examples, explanations, and links.)

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Pets are Family Too!
Use your drug discount card to save on medications for the entire family ‐ including your pets.

  • No enrollment fee and no limits on usage
  • Everyone in your household can use the same card, including your pets
Your drug discount card is available to you at no cost.

Tips & Disclaimers
  • The Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription drug plan data on our site comes directly from Medicare and is subject to change.
  • Medicare has neither reviewed nor endorsed the information on our site.
  • We provide our Q1Medicare.com site for educational purposes and strive to present unbiased and accurate information. However, Q1Medicare is not intended as a substitute for your lawyer, doctor, healthcare provider, financial advisor, or pharmacist. For more information on your Medicare coverage, please be sure to seek legal, medical, pharmaceutical, or financial advice from a licensed professional or telephone Medicare at 1-800-633-4227.
  • We are an independent education, research, and technology company. We are not affiliated with any Medicare plan, plan carrier, healthcare provider, or insurance company. We are not compensated for Medicare plan enrollments. We do not sell leads or share your personal information.
  • Benefits, formulary, pharmacy network, provider network, premium and/or co-payments/co-insurance may change on January 1 of each year. Our PDP-Compare.com and MA-Compare.com provide highlights of annual plan benefit changes.
  • The benefit information provided is a brief summary, not a complete description of benefits. For more information contact the plan.
  • Limitations, copayments, and restrictions may apply.
  • We make every effort to show all available Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage plans in your service area. However, since our data is provided by Medicare, it is possible that this may not be a complete listing of plans available in your service area. For a complete listing please contact 1-800-MEDICARE (TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048), 24 hours a day/7 days a week or consult www.medicare.gov.
  • When enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan, you must continue to pay your Medicare Part B premium.
  • Medicare beneficiaries with higher incomes may be required to pay both a Medicare Part B and Medicare Part D Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amount (IRMAA). Read more on IRMAA.
  • Medicare Advantage plans that include prescription drug coverage (MAPDs) are considered Medicare Part D plans and members with higher incomes may be subject to the Medicare Part D Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amount (IRMAA), just as members in stand-alone Part D plans. In certain situations, you can appeal IRMAA.
  • You must be enrolled in both Medicare Part A and Part B to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan. Members may enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan only during specific times of the year. Contact the Medicare plan for more information.
  • If you are enrolled in a Medicare plan with Part D prescription drug coverage, you may be eligible for financial Extra Help to assist with the payment of your prescription drug premiums and drug purchases. To see if you qualify for Extra Help, call: 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048, 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week or consult www.medicare.gov; the Social Security Office at 1-800-772-1213 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. TTY users should call, 1-800-325-0778; or your state Medicaid Office.
  • Medicare evaluates plans based on a 5-Star rating system. Star Ratings are calculated each year and may change from one year to the next.
  • A Medicare Advantage Private Fee-for-Service plan (PFFS) is not a Medicare supplement plan. Providers who do not contract with the plan are not required to see you except in an emergency.
  • Disclaimer for Institutional Special Needs Plan (SNP): This plan is available to anyone with Medicare who meets the Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) level of care and resides in a nursing home.
  • Disclaimer for Dual Eligible (Medicare/Medicaid) Special Needs Plan (SNP): This plan is available to anyone who has both Medical Assistance from the State and Medicare. Premiums, co-pays, co-insurance, and deductibles may vary based on the level of Extra Help you receive. Please contact the plan for further details.
  • Disclaimer for Chronic Condition Special Needs Plan (SNP): This plan is available to anyone with Medicare who has been diagnosed with the plan specific Chronic Condition.
  • Medicare MSA Plans combine a high deductible Medicare Advantage Plan and a trust or custodial savings account (as defined and/or approved by the IRS). The plan deposits money from Medicare into the account. You can use this money to pay for your health care costs, but only Medicare-covered expenses count toward your deductible. The amount deposited is usually less than your deductible amount, so you generally have to pay out-of-pocket before your coverage begins.
  • Medicare MSA Plans do not cover prescription drugs. If you join a Medicare MSA Plan, you can also join any separate (stand-alone) Medicare Part D prescription drug plan
  • There are additional restrictions to join an MSA plan, and enrollment is generally for a full calendar year unless you meet certain exceptions. Those who disenroll during the calendar year will owe a portion of the account deposit back to the plan. Contact the plan provider for additional information.
  • Medicare beneficiaries may enroll through the CMS Medicare Online Enrollment Center located at www.medicare.gov.
  • Medicare beneficiaries can file a complaint with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services by calling 1-800-MEDICARE 24 hours a day/7 days or using the medicare.gov site. Beneficiaries can appoint a representative by submitting CMS Form-1696.