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Help offered to make every dollar count

November 18, 2009
Times Leader
IN?ECONOMIC?times like these, every dollar counts. Estimated to be worth an average of $3,900 a year, there may be “Extra Help” for prescription drug plan costs especially for senior citizens who have limited income and resources.
Anyone who has Medicare can get Medicare prescription drug coverage. Some with limited incomes and resources are also eligible for “Extra Help” with the costs of monthly premiums, annual deductibles and prescription co-payments for a Medicare plan.
The Buckeye Hills Area Agency on Aging 8 (AAA8) has more details on this “Extra Help” or Low-income Subsidy (LIS) available in Ohio as well as other programs that may assist those who are 60+ and on limited incomes.
“We know that many people in our rural region qualify for these big savings but they don’t even know it,” said Buckeye Hills AAA8 Director Rick Hindman. “They can find out more information about this and other helpful programs by calling our office. Trained professionals will help assess what programs seniors may be eligible for and assist with getting them enrolled.”
Medicare beneficiaries who have limited income may qualify for extra help to pay for prescription drug costs. The “Extra Help” provides assistance paying for monthly premiums, annual deductibles, prescription coinsurance and co-payments and no gap in coverage.
Hindman explained that some seniors face what is called the Medicare “Doughnut Hole.” This is a gap in coverage that forces people who had been getting their drugs cheaply to suddenly pay the full price out of pocket.
“Research shows that last year an estimated 3.4 million Medicare beneficiaries reached the prescription coverage gap,” said Hindman. “Especially those taking medications for a chronic disease such as Alzheimer’s, diabetes, depression, and high blood pressure are especially likely to reach the gap.”
One unsettling finding in the national research shows that of the seniors who meet the “Doughnut Hole” about 15 percent who take medications said they stopped taking them when they reached the gap – simply because they could not afford them. Others noted that they began skipping doses or taking medications that were not as effective.
In 2009, seniors enter the “Doughnut Hole” once total drug costs reach $2,700. This amount includes any money the play paid for drugs as well as out-of-pocket expenses. While in the “gap,” they are responsible for 100 percent of drug costs. The “Doughnut Hole” ends when total drug costs reach $6,153 – when the plan begins to pay 95 percent of drug costs for the remainder of the year.
To find out more about the “Extra Help” available or to learn about other programs, call AAA8 at 1-800-331-2644 or visit AAA8 serves Athens, Hocking, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Noble, Perry and Washington Counties.


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