What are Medicare Savings Programs?
Medicare Savings Programs (MSPs), also known as Medicare Buy-In programs or Medicare Premium Payment Programs,1 are federally funded programs that help people with limited income and resources pay for some or all of their Medicare premiums, deductibles, copayments, and more.2 To qualify for a MSP, individuals must:
- Meet standard income and resource requirements
- Reside in a state or in the District of Columbia
- Be age 65 or older
- Receive Social Security Disability Benefits, OR
- Have a certain disability or permanent kidney failure (even if under age 65)3
However, with these requirements in mind, it is worth noting that the available types of MSPs vary by state, meaning that requirements differ from one state to the next and from one type of MSP to the next.
Types of Medicare Savings Programs
There are four different kinds of MSPs offered in the United States.4 All of these programs have different benefits and qualifications for enrollment, and may even have additional requirements as issued by their respective state. The available MSPs are as follows:
- Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB) Program
- Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary (SLMB) Program
- Qualifying Individual (QI) Program
- Qualified Disabled and Working Individuals (QDWI) Program
Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB) Program
The QMB Program allows Medicare beneficiaries to receive aid from their state to put towards Medicare Part A premiums, Part B premiums, deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments.5
Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary (SLMB) Program
The SLMB Program allows Medicare beneficiaries to receive help from the state to pay towards Medicare premiums. However, unlike the QMB Program, the SLMB Program only helps Medicare beneficiaries pay for Part B premiums.6
Qualifying Individual (QI) Program
Like the SLMB Program, the QI Program helps individuals pay for ONLY Medicare Part B premiums. However, unlike previous programs, QI applications are granted on a “first-come, first-served basis, with priority given to people who got QI benefits the previous year.”7 However, you are not eligible to receive QI benefits if you qualify for Medicaid.8
Qualified Disabled and Working Individuals (QDWI) Program
The QDWI Program helps Medicare beneficiaries pay for Part A premiums with the help of the state. Though one of the less common MSPs available, the QDWI Program is essential to those under 65 who have a “disabling impairment” and continue to work.9
In summary, while Medicare Savings Programs (MSPs) differ, all of the programs available are designed to help people with limited income and resources care for themselves by paying for some or all of their Medicare expenses. However, what MSP you qualify for will depend entirely on what’s available to you within your state, your income, your age, and your disabilities status. For more information on Medicare Savings Programs, please visit Medicare.gov, the official U.S. government site for Medicare.
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1 Medicare Interactive, Medicare Savings Program basics, 2019
2 Benefits.gov, Social Security Medicare Savings Program, n.p.
3 Benefits.gov, Social Security Medicare Savings Program, n.p.
4 Medicare.gov, Medicare Savings Programs, n.p.
5 Medicare.gov, Medicare Savings Programs, n.p.
6 Medicare.gov, Medicare Savings Programs, n.p.
7 Medicare.gov, Medicare Savings Programs, n.p.
8 Medicare.gov, Medicare Savings Programs, n.p.
9 Medicare Interactive, QDWI (Qualified Disabled Working Individual, 2019
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