So, 2020 and still no common-use flying cars. A lot of things have changed. A lot of things haven’t. Sounds so far like a typical year.

A couple of things that are new — sort of. If you are receiving Social Security and Medicare, they will continue to roll on. That hasn’t changed.

The costs are different — that has changed.

You may be aware that a 1.6% COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment) has been added to your income. Be also aware that your Part B premium (think clinics, outpatient services, etc) has gone up for 2020.

The new premium is $144.60/month. This can be troublesome. For people who are struggling to just get by and having to decide what not to buy each month, any increase can be one more straining point.

There is help available. A Medicare Savings Plan (MSP) might be able to help defray some of the costs — and in some cases, may pay the entire premium, help with co-pays, etc. MSPs are Medicaid funded programs for people who meet the financial eligibility criteria.

(Let me remind you that even though you may have heard of Medicaid and some connection with Estate Recovery, it doesn’t happen in these programs.)

If you look online or read material regarding MSPs, you’ll likely run into some interesting acronyms such as QMB, SLMB, QI and QDWI. Most of the people I know are more interested in how they work and if they qualify, versus what the alphabet soup stands for, so let’s take a look.

Eligibility Guidelines:

• Single: Income less than $1,425/month and assets less than $7,730

• Married: Income less than $1,922/month and assets less than $11,600

But wait, there’s more! If you qualify for certain of the MSPs you may also qualify for what’s called Extra Help savings, which can help with Medicare Part D (prescriptions) premiums, copays and/or deductible costs.

Currently, the Extra Help savings has the following criteria:

• Single: Less than $1,581/month and assets less than $14,390

• Married: Less than $2,134/month and assets less than $28,720

Any chance of saving money is a good thing, right? If after this, there are still questions, you can contact any of the numbers at the end of this column and ask about Medicare Savings Programs and Extra Help.

Or, go online to and follow: Your Medicare Costs — get help paying costs — Medicare Savings Plans. Much more detail and clearly presented information is all there.

Go forth and save some money!

Information & Assistance

Long Beach: 360-642-3634

or 888-571-6558

Raymond: 360-942-2177

or 888-571-6557

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