Medicare Savings Program could help seniors offset medical costs

Medicare Savings Program could help seniors offset high prescription costs

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - For senior citizens living on fixed incomes, even Medicare doesn't cover all of the bills.

There are little-known programs, however, that could help some beneficiaries in Hawaii receive help with medical costs.

Medicare expert Martha Khlopin offers answers and advice during her weekly radio show, "A Medicare Moment With Martha." More than 250,000 senior citizens and people with certain disabilities in Hawaii rely on the federal health insurance program. Khlopin has assisted many families that are struggling with the costs of premiums, co-pays and prescription drugs.

"In Hawaii, we have a significant amount of our population, about 25% of our Medicare population qualifies for some form of extra help, and I would say out of that number, a very low percentage even know that they exist," Khlopin said.

For one family, receiving help made a huge difference.

"She was so excited because this one medication for $800, it actually went to like $3.30 per month," recalled Khlopin.

Leovina Stiles, 73, also saves money on prescriptions through a program called Extra Help. The Aiea resident suffers from asthma.

"The inhaler, regular price, I was charged like $98 for one. With the savings program, I only pay from $13 to $18 depending on the brand," said Stiles.

There are income and other requirements so people need to check individually to see if they're eligible.

"You need to apply. You shouldn't assume that you don't qualify and maybe there's been a change to your income or a change to your assets," said Khlopin.

"There's no harm in even trying because although there's an income qualification, there's always a chance that they might qualify. The worst they can say is 'no,'" Stiles said.

To find out if you're eligible for Extra Help with Medicare prescription drug costs, click here.

Different Medicare Savings Programs assist low-income beneficiaries with some out-of-pocket costs, including Medicare Part A and Part B premiums and copayments.

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