Q: My wife and I have incurred considerable medical debts over the past two years. Most of our savings have been depleted trying to pay all the bills. We have limited funds coming in every month but seem to be just over the income guidelines for most subsidy programs. We have cut back as much as we can on our spending and don’t know how we are going to manage much longer. The last time my wife was in the hospital we were encouraged to apply for MassHealth. Unfortunately we were denied due to our income. Can you give us any suggestions where we might get assistance?
A: A new law in Massachusetts which took effect on Jan. 1, 2020, may be the answer for you. Massachusetts is expanding several Medicare Savings Programs which are also known as “MassHealth Buy-in” programs. The change hopefully will help many older residents and disabled individuals save money on their Medicare coverage.
Residents of Massachusetts with limited income and assets may qualify for payments of their monthly Medicare Part B premiums. In some instances the program may also pay out-of-pocket Part A and Part B costs and the Part A premium (if there is one). If an individual or couple meets the guidelines they will also automatically qualify for Extra Help, a program which assists with paying for prescription drugs under Medicare. All of this combined could amount to a considerable financial savings.
The guidelines for a single individual: income does not exceed $1,738 monthly and assets are at or below $15,460. For a couple their income can not exceed $2,346 monthly and assets are at or below $23,200. When we refer to income this includes Social Security, pensions, federal veterans’ benefits, annuities or trusts, dividends/interest, employment income, rental income or income from other sources. Countable assets include bank accounts, IRAs, stocks, bonds, second home, and second automobile/RVs/boats.
People are always encouraged to re-apply for benefits if they were denied at one time and their financial situation has changed. Call the MassHealth’s Customer Service Center for an application at 1-800-841-2900; TTY 1-800-497-4648. The application may also be downloaded at tinyurl.com/MassMSP. If you need additional assistance a SHINE Counselor may be contacted at 1-800-243-4636 press #3.
Are you struggling caring for an older adult or having difficulty locating resources? Our staff is available for a no-cost consultation, set up at your convenience, to help guide you through your caregiving experience. For more details or to schedule an appointment, please call 800-892-0890.
Do you have a question? We encourage inquiries and comments from our readers. Please direct your correspondence to firstname.lastname@example.org or Elder Services of Merrimack Valley and North Shore, Inc., Age Information Department, 280 Merrimack Street, Suite 400, Lawrence, MA 01843. Joan Hatem-Roy is the Chief Executive Officer of Elder Services of Merrimack Valley and North Shore.