Don’t forget…Medicare beneficiaries can sign up for, or change prescription drug plans from Oct. 15 until Dec. 7.

Plans may have different costs and benefits from year to year, thus it is advisable for all beneficiaries to consider their options and make the best choice they can for the coming year. The change will take effect on Jan. 1 as long as the plan gets your request by Dec. 7.

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Remember, anyone who has Medicare can get Medicare prescription drug coverage. People with limited income and resources are eligible for Extra Help to pay for the costs - monthly premiums, annual deductibles, and prescription co-payments - related to a Medicare prescription drug plan. You can help someone you care about apply for Extra Help with his or her Medicare prescription drug costs. The Extra Help is estimated to be worth an average of $4,000 per year.

To qualify for Extra Help you must reside in one of the 50 states or the District of Columbia. Your resources must be limited to $13,640 for an individual or $27,250 for a married couple living together. Resources include such things as bank accounts, stocks, and bonds. They do not count your house and car as resources; and your annual income must be limited to $17,655 for an individual or $23,895 for a married couple living together. Even if your annual income is higher, you still may be able to get some help. If you already receive Extra Help, there is no need to reapply.

When you file your application for Extra Help, you also can start your application process for the Medicare Savings Programs. This state program provides help with other Medicare costs. Social Security will send information to your state unless you tell us not to on the Extra Help application. Your state will contact you to help you apply for a Medicare Savings Program.

The Medicare Savings Program helps people with limited resources and income pay for their Medicare expenses. It can help pay for your Medicare Part B (medical insurance) premiums. For some people, the Medicare Savings Programs also may pay for Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) premiums, if any, and Part A and B deductibles and co-payments.

Call the Senior LinkAge Line to learn more about the Extra Help and to learn more about the Medicare Part D drug benefit at 800-333-2433.

This article is made possible with Older Americans Act dollars from the Land of the Dancing Sky Area Agency on Aging. Call the Senior LinkAge One Stop Shop at 800-333-2433 to speak with an information specialist, or check out our website at MinnesotaHelp.info. MinnesotaHelp.info is an online directory of services designed to help people in Minnesota find human services, information and referral, financial assistance, and other forms of help.

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