We can also see how the Medicare.gov system works for those people receiving the Low-Income Subsidy (also know as LIS ot the Extra—Help program). In this example, the Medicare.gov Plan Finder "Personalized Plan List" shows Medicare plans with either low or no monthly premiums. In this example screen, a zero premium ($0) means that this Medicare Part D plan meets or is under Florida’s monthly LIS benchmark premium or subsidy limit (you can see that it is Florida because we are using the 32080 ZIP). In this example, you may also notice that several Medicare Part D plans show a monthly premium cost of only a few dollars or more. These small monthly premiums are actually the amount that the actual Medicare Part D plan's monthly premium exceeds or is over the state specific LIS premium benchmark (in this case the Florida LIS benchmark premium. You can click on this link to see the 2013 LIS Benchmark premiums for all states.
The Medicare plan selection process for someone who qualifies for the Low-Income Subsidy or Extra Help program is the same as choosing a plan for a non—LIS beneficiary. Medicare Part D plans plans for people who qualify for LIS can be compared by the estimated "Total Annual Drug Plan Cost" or what the Medicare beneficiary can expect to pay for their coverage. If the estimated annual costs for several different Medicare Part D plans is similar, a LIS qualified beneficiary is having trouble choosing a plan, they can also consider the Medicare plan Quality Star Ratings and the size or generosity of the plan formularies. The good news for people with LIS status: the LIS qualified beneficiary is granted a continuous Special Enrollment Period (or SEP) where they can change Medicare plans at any time during the plan year (and not wait for the annual Open Enrollment Period to make a change). To learn more about the LIS or Extra Help program please visit our section on the subject. You can click here to learn more about: Extra Help with Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Costs