State and Local Officials Kick-off Expansion of Medicare Savings Programs

Looking to save money on your Medicare Coverage? A new law that took effect this month may help. Officials from the Baker-Polito Administration and City of Boston kicked-off the expansion of Medicare Savings Programs in Massachusetts during a recent community event in Roxbury.

“As Co-Chair of the Governor’s Council to Address Aging in Massachusetts, I can tell you that issues of health care affordability came up time and again as we traveled around the Commonwealth to listen to the voices of older adults,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders. “Expanding Medicare Savings Programs certainly helps with affordability, but this initiative also tells older adults that their voices matter and that we listened to them.”

The expansion of eligibility was included in a new state law proposed and signed by Governor Baker last year, up to 40,000 low-income older adults, and people living with disabilities, qualify for help paying their Medicare coverage and may also qualify for extra assistance paying for their prescription drug costs.

“Health care costs continue to be a huge expense and challenge for many of our older residents,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “Expanding eligibility for the Medicare Savings Programs is a significant way to ensure that our seniors have access to high-quality and affordable health care coverage. We want to make Boston the best city in the world for older adults, and this initiative helps move us forward.”

On January 1, 2020, the income and asset limits for Medicare Savings Programs (also known as “MassHealth Buy-In”) increased. If eligible, these programs will pay for a Medicare recipient’s Part B premium, and in some cases Part A and B deductibles, co-pays and Part A premium. In addition, residents who qualify will automatically receive Extra Help, a program that will lower their Part D premium and co-pays.

Today’s event drew dozens of Boston residents to Central Boston Elder Services where they learned about the Medicare Savings Programs, the benefits they provide, and had a chance to speak with SHINE counselors from the Boston Age Strong Commission. SHINE counselors provide free health insurance information and counseling to all Massachusetts residents who have, or are about to become eligible for Medicare.

“Health care costs are a major factor influencing economic security for older adults,” said Elder Affairs Secretary Elizabeth Chen. “We know that programs like Medicare Savings Programs can be life-changing for residents who juggle their health care costs with the other necessities of life. We want people who are eligible to learn about these programs and apply for the benefits they provide.”

Sarah Blakeney, a 92 year-old Boston resident, did just that.

“At the age of 92, I feel blessed to be a part of today’s celebration because I know that thousands like me who battle each month just to make ends will finally find some relief,” said Ms. Blakeney. “Last week, I proudly submitted my application for the Medicare Savings Program knowing that this would not have happened if seniors like myself had not stood up to share our challenges and push for change.”

In Massachusetts, Medicare Savings Programs are administered by MassHealth, the Commonwealth’s Medicaid Program.

How do you know if you qualify? 3 easy steps.

  1. Learn about the new income and asset limits: If your income and assets are at or below the amounts listed in the table below, you may qualify for help from one of several Medicare Savings Programs.

 

You are Your income is at or below And, your assets are

at or below

Single Individual $1,738/month $15,720
Married Couple $2,246/month $23,600
  1. Call MassHealth: Contact the MassHealth’s Customer Service Center by phone at 1-800-841-2900, or TTY at 1-800-497-4648, and request a “MassHealth Buy-In” application, or download one from: https://tinyurl.com/MassMSP
  2. Apply: Submit your completed application to MassHealth. Specially trained SHINE counselors can also assist with the application process. Call 1-800-243-4636 or your community’s Council on Aging to find a SHINE counselor near you.

Expanding eligibility for Medicare Savings Programs support recommendations made by the Governor’s Council to Address Aging in Massachusetts to improve access and affordability of health coverage for older residents. In 2017, Governor Baker signed an executive order creating the first-ever Council, which provides recommendations and advice to the Administration on promoting healthy aging and creating an age-friendly future for Massachusetts.

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