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Medicare Savings Program


Are you enrolled in Medicare or soon-to-be Medicare eligible? If you’re also on a fixed income, you could qualify for financial assistance with the high cost of health care. A Medicare Savings Program (MSP) can help pay deductibles, coinsurance, and other expenses that Medicare usually doesn’t cover.

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We’re here to help you understand the types of Medicare Savings Programs. Below, we explain who is eligible for these programs and how to get the assistance you need to pay for your Medicare.

What is a Medicare Savings Program?

The Medicare Savings Program helps eligible Medicare recipients receive help from their state to pay the premiums for Medicare Part A and Part B. In addition to premiums, those who qualify may receive assistance with their coinsurance and copayments.

There are seven Medicare Savings Programs, and while applying, your state will determine which program(s) you are eligible for. Everyone is encouraged to apply, even if you do not believe that you might qualify for the programs.

The Seven Types of Medicare Savings Programs

Because different needs and circumstances can affect seniors, seven Medicare Savings Programs are available to help cover such scenarios.

  • Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB) Programs pay most out-of-pocket costs for Medicare, protecting beneficiaries from cost-sharing. These programs offer full coverage of Medicare Part B premiums. Your Medicare Part A premium will also receive coverage if you haven’t worked 40 quarters. Deductibles, copays, and coinsurance receive coverage contingent on the state in which the beneficiary resides. Those who qualify for the QMB income limits in 2022 are also automatically eligible for the Extra Help program for prescription drugs.
    • QMB Plus (QMB+) refers to those who receive full Medicaid benefits and all the cost-sharing coverage QMB programs offer.
  • Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary (SLMB) Programs pay your Part B premium. Like QMBs, those who qualify as SLMBs are automatically eligible for Extra Help.
    • SLMB Plus (SLMB+) eligibility entitles beneficiaries to pay their Medicare Part B premiums plus full Medicaid benefits. Protection for cost-sharing varies by state.
  • Qualifying Individual (QI) Programs are also known as Additional Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary (ALMB) Programs. Like the SLMB programs, they offer Medicare Part B premium payment. Yet, you can qualify with a higher income. Those who qualify are also automatically eligible for Extra Help.
  • Qualified Disabled and Working Individual (QDWI) Programs cover monthly Medicare Part A premiums for qualified individuals under 65 with disabilities who are currently working.
  • Full Benefit Dual-Eligible (FBDE) refers to those eligible for Medicare and full Medicaid benefits. Depending on the state where they live, beneficiaries can receive up to the same full cost-sharing protection as with QMB+.

State-Specific Name Conventions for Medicare Savings Programs

If you live in any of the following states, please note the differences in program names:

  • Alaska: QI is called SLMB Plus
  • Connecticut: QI is called ALMB
  • Maryland: QI is called SLMB II
  • North Carolina: QMB, SLMB, and QI are called MQB, MQB-B, and MQB-E, respectively
  • Nebraska: Federal QMB is replaced with full Medicaid; SLMB and QI are both referred to as QMB
  • New Hampshire: QI is called SLMB-135
  • Oregon: SLMB and QI are called SMB and SMF, respectively
  • Wisconsin: QI is called SLMB Plus

What Is the Income Limit for the Medicare Savings Program?

The income limit for your MSP in 2022 will vary based on the program you use and your marital status. So, who qualifies for Medicare Savings Program? To qualify for an MSP, you must be eligible for Medicare Part A. For those who don’t qualify for full Medicaid benefits, your monthly income must also be below the limits in the following chart.

2022 Monthly Income Limits for Medicare Savings Programs
Medicare Savings Program Monthly Income Limits for Individual Monthly Income Limits for Married Couple
QMB $1,153 $1,546
SLMB $1,379 $1,851
QI $1,549 $2,080
QDWI $4,249 $5,722
*Please note: the above income limits are subject to change in 2023

In addition to the income limits, you must have limited resources to qualify for an MSP.

What Are Countable Resources for Medicare Savings Programs?

Countable resources are monies in checking or savings accounts, stocks, and bonds included in your Medicare Savings Program resource limits. For seniors to qualify for the MSPs above, the dollar value of your countable resources must be below the limit for the type of assistance you’re looking to receive. See the chart below for the limit for each program.

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2022 Resource Limits for Medicare Savings Programs
Medicare Savings Program Resource Limits for Individual Resource Limits for Married Couple
QMB $8,400 $12,600
SLMB $8,400 $12,600
QI $8,400 $12,600
QDWI $4,000 $6,000
*Please note: the above income limits are subject to change in 2023

Countable resources mean any money in bank accounts (checking or savings), stocks, and bonds. Your home, one car, a burial plot, up to $1,500 already saved for burial expenses, and personal belongings aren’t included when countable resources are considered.

How to Apply for a Medicare Savings Program

Visit Medicare.gov or call your local Medicaid office to determine if you’re eligible for an MSP in your state. You can also call 1-800-MEDICARE to ask about financial assistance with your Medicare premiums. They can also provide you with the phone number for the Medicaid office in your state, and you can determine whether you’re dual-eligible.

If your income and/or resources exceed those listed above, but you think you could still qualify, filling out an application is recommended. The limits are subject to increase each year.

When applying for an MSP, you’ll need documentation. The list of what’s required varies by state, but you’ll want to make sure to furnish recent bank statements to substantiate your need for the program. Be sure to speak with a Medicare agent or fill out one of our online rate forms to apply for your coverage.

Medicare Savings Programs

How To Renew Medicare Savings Program

Seniors approved for a Medicare Savings Program must renew (recertify) yearly. You should receive a notice through the mail when it is time to renew your MSP. If you do not, contacting your local Medicaid office and following the process they lay out will be your course of action to continue receiving benefits the following year.

Is Medicare Savings Program the Same as Medicaid?

While MSPs are administered by and use the same funding as Medicaid, they are programs for covering Medicare expenses. Your Medicare Savings Program can help you cover a range of out-of-pocket Medicare expenses, including your coinsurance, deductibles, or premiums.

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How to Get Additional Medicare Coverage with Your Medicare Savings Program

If you qualify for a Medicare Savings Program and/or Extra Help, you can save money on your out-of-pocket Medicare costs. To save even more, you can add supplemental coverage to your Medicare.

Pairing a Medicare Advantage plan with your MSP is an excellent way to protect yourself from high medical bills because of a chronic condition, unexpected illness, or accident. This can also give you additional benefits for an affordable price.

Also, those that qualify for a Medicare Savings Program may not be subject to a Medicare Part D or Part B penalty. Although, this depends on your level of Extra Help and the state in which you reside.

Call the number above today to get rate quotes for your area and explore coverage options that fit with your Medicare Savings Program. You can also fill out our compare rates form, and an agent will contact you with premium rate quotes from top carriers in your area.

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Jagger Esch

Jagger Esch is the Medicare expert for MedicareFAQ and the founder, president, and CEO of Elite Insurance Partners and MedicareFAQ.com. Since the inception of his first company in 2012, he has been dedicated to helping those eligible for Medicare by providing them with resources to educate themselves on all their Medicare options. He is featured in many publications as well as writes regularly for other expert columns regarding Medicare.

59 thoughts on “Medicare Savings Program

  1. My husband and I are both disabled and both on Medicare, we also have a 4 year old but nothing on here shows income of a three income house, does this change?

    1. Hi Patricia! If I’m understanding your question correctly… having a dependent does not change your eligibility. If you and your husband make less than $1,430 monthly combined, with or without a dependent, you will qualify for an MSP.

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