If you’re on a fixed income, it can be hard to make ends meet. Medicare is a big help, but many people still struggle to pay their share of medical bills and keep up with the high price of prescription drugs.
If you only have traditional Medicare Parts A and B, you are responsible for annual deductibles and 20 percent of the cost of medical services like doctor visits, outpatient procedures, tests and lab work.
You also have to pay the full cost of your prescriptions. These two things together can easily add up to thousands of dollars each year – even if your health is pretty good.
If you worry about affording healthcare costs on Medicare, there are three kinds of Medicare plans that can help.
Low-Income Medicare Supplemental Insurance Plans
Low-income Medicare Supplement insurance plans work with your Medicare Part A and B coverage.
After Medicare has paid for a service or procedure, the Medicare Supplement plan pays some or all of the portion you would otherwise be responsible for.
Medicare Supplement plans are sold by private insurance companies, and you have to pay a monthly premium for them.
The trick is to find the plan that offers the best coverage at a monthly cost you can afford.
Plan N stands out as a solid choice because it has great benefits at a relatively low cost.
Plan N pays for:
- Your 20 percent share of medical costs under Medicare Part B
- An additional 365 days of hospitalization after you use all your Original Medicare benefits
- The $1,364 Medicare Part A deductible
- Skilled nursing facility and hospice coinsurance and copayments
- The first three pints of blood for a medical procedure
Another possibility for some people is High Deductible Plan F. The regular version of Plan F is the most complete and expensive Medicare Supplement plan.
It picks up all the same costs as Plan N, with no copays. Plan F also pays the Medicare Part B deductible of $185 and covers Medicare excess charges.
The high deductible version of Plan F has far lower premiums than regular Plan F, but you will have to meet a deductible of $2,240 before the plan begins paying.
Medicare Advantage Plans for Low-Income Beneficiaries
Medicare Advantage is another option. These are private health insurance plans that replace your Original Medicare coverage. You still have the same Medicare Parts A and B benefits, but there are additions and restrictions.
- Medicare Advantage plans may have lower monthly premiums than Medigap plans.
- Medicare Advantage plans are HMOs or PPOs, with networks of providers. You may not have coverage if you see a doctor who is not in your plan’s network. Original Medicare and Medigap do not restrict you to a provider network.
- Medicare Advantage plans often come with prescription drug benefits. They may also offer additional benefits such as dental and vision coverage.
Medicare Advantage plans are not standardized, so it is important to compare benefits, premium costs, and your expected out of pocket costs before choosing a plan.
Low Income Standalone Prescription Drug Plans
Medicare Part D plans pick up much of the cost of prescription drugs. You can find plans with low monthly premiums that will drastically reduce the amount you have to pay at the pharmacy.
You will save even more if you use a pharmacy in your plan’s preferred pharmacy network, or if you get your regular prescriptions filled by mail.
Getting Help Paying for Medicare
If your income is low enough and you don’t have many assets, you may qualify for your state’s Medicaid program. If you aren’t eligible for Medicaid, you may still be eligible for a Medicare Savings Program.
Savings programs may pay your Medicare Part B premiums, deductibles and copays. To enroll in these programs, you must have income and assets below a certain amount. There is a similar program for prescriptions called Medicare Extra Help.
At MedicareFAQ, we help you find the best Medicare coverage at a price that fits your budget. Call us or fill out our form and we’ll search the top insurance companies in your area to get quotes on the coverage you need.