M4A uses funds to educate seniors on Medicaid plans

Published 3:12 pm Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The specifics of Medicaid Savings Plans can be tough to decipher for senior adults already trying to navigate a confusing medical system.

The Middle Alabama Area Agency on Aging, however, now has more resources to help them do so. Director Kelly Flick said the organization would receive a portion of more than $470,000 in new funding aimed at better educating the public.

Flick said it’s important for seniors to understand the resources available when applying for a Medicaid plan.

“Our goal is to help people who aren’t aware of these programs,” Flick said. “A lot of people think they might actually make too much money to qualify.”

The Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB) Program is one way seniors can find assistance with medical bills. The QMB helps lower–income individuals pay deductibles and co-payments not covered by Medicare, as well as the Medicare Part B premium of $96.40. This amount is deducted from the Social Security check each month.

To be eligible for this program a person can make no more than $923 per month for a single individual or $1,235 per month if they are married. Once approved, the coverage begins the following month.

Persons who draw a slightly higher income each month can participate in the Specified Low Income Medicare Beneficiary (SLMB) Program.

This plan pays the $96.40 Medicare Part B premium only. You can only make $1,103 per month if single or $1,477 when married to be eligible for the plan. This program may kick in three months prior to the application month.

Individuals who are approved for a MSP are automatically qualified for extra assistance in paying for Medicare Part D (drug) premiums, deductibles and co-payments. Those eligible for QMB pay no Part D premium and either no or small co-payments for drugs, and those eligible for SLMB pay a reduced Part D premium and deductibles and co-payments based on a sliding scale.

Flick said people should not see the programs as handouts or welfare.

“These plans put more money in their pockets that they can maybe buy food with,” Flick said. “A hundred bucks is a lot of money for many of our seniors.”

Flick said the organization plans to put the grant money to use by providing more brochures and displays to further explain this information to seniors.

M4A currently provides educational information through community programs, educational forums in senior centers and educational displays. An education displays can be found at the Calera Public Library.

For more information about SHIP, the Low-Income Subsidy program, Medicare Savings Program or the Medicare Part D Prescription Drug program contact M4A at (205) 670-5770 or toll free at 1-866-570-2998.