Healthier and Wiser
Many people who have health insurance obtain it through an employer. However, there may be times in your life when you are without coverage, facing coverage choices or grappling with retirement health issues. The "Healthier and Wiser" series will address some of the main health care coverage issues women encounter at different stages of their lives. It will point you in the direction of where to go to find more information. It is not intended as legal advice. You can check out the "Healthier and Wiser" series on Wednesdays.
This Week: After Retirement
If you are enrolled in Medicare and cannot afford to pay the out-of-pocket costs Medicare does not cover, is there any other assistance for you?
- There are state programs for individuals with incomes below or near federal poverty limits. For those at or below the poverty level, with limited resources, the Qualified Medicare Beneficiary Program (QMB) will pay your premiums, deductibles and co-payments under Medicare. The Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary Program (SLMB) and the Qualified Individual Program (QI) pay Medicare Part B premiums for those with incomes between 120% and 135% of the federal poverty level. Call your state Medicaid office and ask if you are eligible. The programs can save you hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars each year.
- You might benefit from a Medigap insurance policy - a private insurance policy that pays out-of-pocket medical costs not covered by Medicare. Contact Medicare for more information on Medigap insurance policies sold in your state or call your state insurance commissioner. Every state offers free insurance counseling to seniors through a program called the SHIP program. Call Medicare at 1-800-Medicare for the nearest SHIP site.
- The National Council on the Aging has an interactive website program, called Benefits Check-Up, that will point you toward an array of state and private programs that can help you with medical costs. Find it on the web at www.benefitscheckup.org.