I have met two women in the last two months who told me they are over 65 and collecting Social Security – but they are not enrolled in Medicare Part B because they can’t afford it. Can’t afford it???
I told them both that, without Part B, they don’t have health insurance – and if they get sick, or fall and break a hip, they will end up with very large medical bills.
The premium for Part B of Medicare is $99.90 per month. Part B covers just about every medical service except for hospitalization, skilled nursing facilities, home health care, and hospice, which come under Part A. Part A has no monthly premium because it is paid for by people who are currently paying Medicare taxes taken out of their paychecks. Everybody gets Part A at 65, so these ladies have Part A coverage but not Part B.
Part B pays 80% of doctor bills, lab tests, emergency room charges, ambulance charges, chemo and radiation therapy, and many many more medical services. If a person doesn’t have Part B, they don’t have health insurance. And a person who doesn’t have Part B is crazy.
Help is available to pay for Part B.
I asked each of these women what their monthly Social Security check is. Both told me they get less than $1,256 per month. Because their income is below this amount, I told them they qualify to get their Part B paid by the state of Arizona. The state administers the Medicare Savings Program, though the money actually comes from the federal government – thank goodness.
25% of low income seniors and disabled Medicare beneficiaries do not know they can get help with their Medicare premium.
I was telling this story to another insurance broker, and she told me of a couple in their 80’s she met in Douglas. Between the husband and wife, they are living on $800 per month in Social Security benefits – and the husband has $99.90 taken out of his Social Security check each month!!
The broker helped this couple fill out the form for the Medicare Savings Program and will send it in to AHCCCS (Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System). It can take up to 45 days for the application to get processed.
For more information on income levels that qualify people for help with Medicare and Part D costs, see my recent post, Getting Help with Medicare and drug costs.