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Medicare Savings Programs (help from Medicaid paying Medicare premiums)

What are Medicare Savings Programs?

Medicare Savings Programs use Medicaid funds to help reduce the out-of-pocket expenses for Medicare beneficiaries with limited income and financial resources.

More specifically, states have programs for people with limited income and financial resources that pay Medicare Premiums and, in some cases, may also pay Medicare Part A (inpatient hospital insurance) and Medicare Part B (outpatient medical insurance) Deductible and Coinsurance. These programs help millions of people with Medicare save money each year.

There are 4 kinds of Medicare Savings Programs:

  1. Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB) Program—Pays for Part A and/or Part B premiums. In addition, Medicare providers aren't allowed to bill you for services and items Medicare covers, including deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments. If you get a bill for these charges, tell your provider or the debt collector that you're in the QMB Program and can't be charged for Medicare deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments. If you've already made payments on a bill for services and items Medicare covers, you have the right to a refund. If you're in a Medicare Advantage Plan, you should also contact the plan to ask them to stop the charges. In some cases, you may be billed a small copayment through Medicaid, if one applies.

    To make sure your provider knows you're in the QMB Program, show both your Medicare and Medicaid or QMB card each time you get care. If you have Original Medicare, you can also give your provider a copy of your "Medicare Summary Notice" (MSN). Your MSN will show you're in the QMB Program and shouldn't be billed. Log into (or create) your secure Medicare account at Medicare.gov to sign up to get your MSNs electronically.

    If your provider won't stop billing you, call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users can call 1-877-486-2048. We can also confirm that you're in the QMB Program.

  2. Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary (SLMB) Program—Pays Part B premiums only.

  3. Qualifying Individual (QI) Program—Helps pay Part B premiums only. You must apply every year for QI benefits. Apply as soon as possible since applications are granted on a first-come, first-served basis.

  4. Qualified Disabled and Working Individuals (QDWI) Program—Pays Part A premiums only. You may qualify for this program if you have a disability, you’re working, and you lost your Social Security disability benefits and premium-free Part A because you returned to work.

Who qualifies for the Medicare Savings Program?

In most cases, to qualify for a Medicare Savings Program, a Medicare beneficiary must have:
  • Medicare Part A
  • Monthly income* and resources below a certain limit
*Limits are slightly higher in Alaska and Hawaii. If you have income from working, you may qualify for benefits even if your income is higher than the limits listed.

If you don't qualify for the Medicare Savings Program, you may still qualify for "Extra Help".
  • Yearly income* less than $22,590 and resources less than $15,720** in 2024 for an individual person
  • Yearly income* less than $30,660 and resources less than $31,360** in 2024 for a married couple, living together.
*Limits are slightly higher in Alaska and Hawaii. If you have income from working, you may qualify for benefits even if your income is higher than the limits listed.
**These limits do not include the $1,500 per person burial exclusion.

Note: The limit for income and financial resources may change each year. Many states calculate your income and resources differently, so you may qualify in your state even if your income or resources are higher than the amounts listed above. If you have income from working, you may qualify for benefits even if your income is higher than the limits above. Resources include money in a checking or savings account, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs). Resources do not include your home, car, burial plot, burial expenses up to your state’s limit, furniture, or other household items. Some states do not have any limits on resources.

Individual states may have higher income and/or resource limits
The names of these programs and how they work may vary by state. Medicare Savings Programs are not available in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Also, individual states may have higher income and/or resource limits. Check with your State Medical Assistance (Medicaid) office. Also, certain types of income and resources are not counted, so you should still apply even if you think your income and resources are above the limit.

How do I apply for a Medicare Savings Program?

Call your State Medical Assistance (Medicaid) office (see 1-800-MEDICARE Helpline). Since the names of these programs may vary by state, ask for information on Medicare Savings Programs. It is very important to call if you think you qualify for any of these programs, even if you aren't sure. Visit www.medicare.gov on the web, or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) to get the telephone number for your state. 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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  • 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.
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  • 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.
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  • 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.