Can I get help with my Medicare prescription drug costs?
Medicare offers a program called Extra Help to people with low incomes and limited assets. This is sometimes called Low Income Subsidy or LIS.
How to apply for Extra Help
Step 1: Choose a drug plan provider
Whether you qualify for Extra Help or not, you must enroll for prescription drug coverage in order to apply for Extra Help.
Step 2: Complete an application for Extra Help.
Complete the online application. The Social Security Administration will review your application and send you a letter to let you know if you qualify for Extra Help with Part D costs.
You may automatically receive Extra Help
If you meet any one of the criteria below, you will automatically receive Extra Help from Medicare to help with your Part D costs. There's no need to apply.
- You receive both Medicare and Medicaid.
- You receive both Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits and have Medicare.
- The state pays your Medicare premiums.
If you aren't getting Extra Help, you can see if you qualify by calling:
- 1-800-Medicare (toll-free; TTY/TDD users call 1-877-486-2048), 24 hours a day/7 days a week,
- Your State Medicaid Office, or
- The Social Security Administration toll-free at 1-800-772-1213. TTY/TDD users should call 1-800-325-0778 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.
If you have any questions, please contact UnitedHealthcare Customer Service.
Best Available Evidence Policy
The federal Best Available Evidence (BAE) policy requires that the plan adjust your subsidy if you provide updated information that changes the level of Extra Help you receive. A memo on the CMS website explains the procedures for updating a person's level of Extra Help.
Counting your assets
To determine your eligibility, Medicare may also look at your assets. Assets Medicare counts include:
- Cash (including checking and savings accounts)
- Certificates of deposit
- Retirement accounts (like IRAs or 401(k)s)
- Stocks, bonds and mutual funds
- Promissory notes
- Property that could be converted to cash within 20 days
- Life insurance policies
Medicare does not count these assets:
- Your primary home
- Your primary car
- Burial plots or agreements
- Funds set aside for burial expenses (up to $1,500 per person)
Premiums for members receiving Extra Help
To learn more about plan premiums for people receiving Extra Help, please contact UnitedHealthcare Customer Service.
State Pharmaceutical Assistance Programs
A State Pharmaceutical Assistance Program (SPAP) provides state-funded prescription drug assistance to people who need help paying for their monthly prescription drug plan premiums, deductibles, copays and coinsurance.
For most programs, members must meet specific income guidelines and additional requirements that vary by state.
To find out how to contact your state SPAP, visit www.medicare.gov/pharmaceutical-assistance-program/state-programs.aspx.