Medicare Extra Help for Low Income Persons

For individuals who receive Part D prescription drug coverage and are low-income, there is assistance available for the costs of deductibles and co-pays. This Extra Help is also known as the Low Income Subsidy (or LIS).

Who is eligible?
To receive Extra Help, persons must be eligible for Medicare Part D and have income less than 100% of the Federal Poverty Level for a full benefit or less than 150% of the Poverty Level for a partial benefit.

What are the benefits?
Benefits vary based on the recipient’s income and on living situation. In general Extra Help will pay for a person’s monthly drug plan premium for an Extra Help approved plan. It will also pay the annual deductible amount ($405 in 2018), though it will leave $83 for partial subsidy recipients to pay out of pocket. Extra Help will also cover all drugs in the coverage gap, or doughnut hole, or 85% of drug costs for partial subsidy recipients.

Once recipients have spent $3,750 in prescription costs, the coverage gap begins; however, individuals who are receiving Extra Help will continue to pay co-payments between $1.25 and $8.35. Individuals who receive partial subsidy will pay 15% of the co-pay for the drugs.

Once individuals have reached $5,000 in prescription drug costs, they will enter the catatrophic coverage level. Individuals who are receiving Extra Help (either full or partial subsidy pays will pay between $1.25 to $8.35 for generics and name brand drugs or 5% of the drug cost, whichever is greater.

The variable benefits are summarized below:

Beneficiaries Eligible Maximum Income
(2017 Federal Poverty Levels)
Maximum Resources
Benefits (Deductibles, Co-pays, Out of pocket)
Institutionalized for more than 30 days in an assisted living, nursing home or hospital and receiving Medicaid. Deductibles and Co-pays $0.00
Income ≤ 100% Poverty
Premium in excess of $35.02
Name Brands-$3.70
Out of pocket-$0
Income > 135% Poverty
or Medicare Savings Program Enrollee
Premium in excess of $35.02
Name brands-$8.35
Out of pocket-$0
Non-institutionalized (Partial Subsidy)
Income ≤ 150% Poverty
Premium in excess of $35.02
Total out of pocket 15% (in doughnut hole)
Generics after doughnut hole-$3.35
Name brands after doughnut hole-$8.35

Individuals who in addition to Medicare, receive Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income or a Medicare Savings Program (Qualified Medicare Benefit – QMB, Qualified Individual 1 – QI-1, or Special Low Income Medicare Beneficiary – SLIM-B) will be automatically enrolled in Extra Help. Auto-enrollees may be asked for verification documentation of lawful presence, income and resources by their county department of social services.

Individuals who are not auto-enrolled must apply through the Social Security Administration or individuals can enroll over the phone (1-800-772-1213). To talk to a counselor about completing an application, call 303-333-3482.