Senior Citizen's Guide digital books
Senior Citizen's Guide to Southwest Ohio

Save During Hard Economic Times

The tough economic climate has forced most of us to evaluate our expenditures and potentially cut costs, reprioritizing what we need most. Even though many Medicare beneficiaries may be on more of a fixed-budget, they are no different in wanting to find ways to put a little more money back into their pockets.

Select the Appropriate Medicare Coverage

The annual Medicare open enrollment period is Nov. 15 to Dec. 31 in 2010. This period affords people with Medicare a variety of choices in selecting the type of Medicare coverage that best meets their healthcare needs and budget. It is wise to comparison shop and utilize the services provided by OSHIIP to help you sort through the many choices. Generally speaking, people with Medicare have two options. Option one is to use the Original Medicare benefit (Part A and Part B) and possibly add secondary coverage with a stand-alone prescription plan (Part D). Option two would be to receive all Medicare benefits from a private Medicare Advantage plan (Part C), which typically includes the drug coverage. Costs and coverage vary with each option and it is important to make an educated and individualized decision.

Apply for Prescription Drug Financial Assistance

Whether you receive your prescription drug coverage from a stand-alone plan or a Medicare Advantage plan, you may qualify for “Extra Help” with the out of pocket costs for medications. Medicare provides a Low Income Subsidy (LIS) or “Extra Help” to those with limited incomes and resources. Depending on the level of income and resources, Medicare will pay all or most of your premium and deductible, minimize copayments and eliminate the coverage gap (or doughnut hole). The annual average savings is $3,900. You can apply online at www.socialsecurity.gov or call OSHIIP for enrollment assistance.

Medicare Savings Programs

People on Medicare with limited income and resources may also qualify for one of the Medicare Savings Programs (MSP). These programs help those on Medicare by paying for deductibles, coinsurance and/or premiums not covered by Medicare. At minimum, these programs can save at least $96.40 a month. Ohio has four MSPs: Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB), Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary (SLMB), Qualifying Individual (QI) and Qualified Disabled and Working Individuals (QDWI). If you qualify for one of these programs, you will automatically qualify for Part D Extra Help. The regular Medicaid application will help determine if you are eligible to receive these benefits. It can be obtained from your county Department of Job and Family Services or by calling 1-800-686-1556 and visiting www.jfs.ohio.gov.

Ohio’s Food Assistance Program

You may qualify for help with groceries through the Ohio Food Assistance program. Contact your county Department of Job and Family Services or by calling 1-800-686-1556 and visiting www.jfs.ohio.gov for more information about eligibility.

The Ohio Benefits Bank (OBB)

The Ohio Office of the Governor offers the Ohio Benefit Bank (OBB), a new public /private initiative. Internet-based, OBB is also offered at convenient, community locations. OBB connects people with low and moderate incomes to supports such as public benefits and tax credits. Visit the Ohio Benefit Bank at www.obb.ohio.gov. For help using the Ohio Benefit Bank, call 1-800-648-1176.

Public Agencies to Contact

For additional assistance and written information on the programs described above, please call the Ohio Medicaid hotline, 1-800-324-8680; your county Department of Job and Family Services, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services at 1-800-686-1556; and OSHIIP at 1-800-686-1578, oshiipmail@ins.state.oh.us, and www.insurance.ohio.gov.

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