The Complete Guide to Senior Citizen Medical Assistance Programs
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Senior Citizens need a lot of specialized medical assistance as they age, including different prescribed medications, eye care, dental care and more. There is a lot of medical assistance available for seniors to ensure they get the health care they need, allowing them to live a high qualify of life. The following guide will take an in depth look at all the medical assistance seniors citizens can benefit from.
Medical Assistance Programs
Every senior should be aware of Medicare, and most seniors should be receiving Medicare benefits. Medicare is a federal health insurance program for senior citizens aged 65 or older. Most seniors are automatically enrolled for Medicare, especially if they are getting social security benefits.
Generally, the Medicare program usually pays for approximately 50% or more of the total medical and health costs. Out of pocket expenses that the senior will need to pay vary on a few factors, such as income, as well as the amount of health care the medicare patient needs. If you are not getting social security benefits you can apply for Medicare by visiting medicare.gov.
Medicare covers most acute health issues, however it does not cover any home care needed, or any nursing home care. There are fours parts to Medicare classified as Part A,B,C and D.
1. Medicare Part A
- covers inpatient hospital care
- skilled nursing facility care
- home health care
2. Medicare Part B
- covers doctors services
- ambulance services
- durable medical equipment
- laboratory tests and x rays
- mental health services
3. Medicare Part C
- allows private health insurance companies to provide benefits
- these private health plans such as HMOs or PPOs are referred to as Medicare Advantage Plans
4. Medicare Part D
- provides prescription drug benefits, more on part D is seen below. Part D of medicare helps seniors pay for their prescriptions. Seniors can apply for this part of Medicare by visiting medicare.gov, or by contacting the pharmaceutical companies which provide the medications they need. Once you are accepted you will either receive free or discounted medications. In addition, Part D of Medicare also includes a Prescription Savings Discount Card. These cards will allow you to save on each of your prescription costs.
Medicaid is a very valuable financial assistance program which provides funds for health care costs for individual, and families of low income, as well as seniors.
Seniors receiving Medicare can also receive Medicaid as well. Medicaid for seniors will generally cover premiums and copayments that are charged in Medicare. Programs and health services covered by both programs are first covered by Medicare, with the difference being covered by Medicaid.
You can apply for Medicaid at any time of the year. The eligibility process can be rather confusing since it is done state by state. However there is the Affordable Care Act, which is also referred to as Obamacare, distinguishes a minimum standard of 138% of the Federal Poverty Level.
Furthermore, in order to qualify for Medicaid, a single individual cannot have more then $2000 in countable assets, and a couple cannot have $101 500. Keep in mind the countable assets do not include your car, or your house if its worth $500 000 or less.
To see if you qualify for Medicaid, and to apply you can visit healthcare.gov.
Program of All Inclusive Care For The Elderly (PACE)
This national program provides in depth medical and social services to frail, community dwelling seniors. PACE operates in conjunction with both Medicare and Medicaid. A team of health care professionals provides the participants with quality health care that allows them to live in the community rather then have to living in a senior nursing home.
To be eligible for this program you must meet the following:
- be aged 55 or older
- display a strong need of nursing home care
- live in the vicinity of a PACE organization
Furthermore, PACE covers a wide variety of services as follows
- home care
- hospital care
- emergency services
- nursing home care
- nutrition advice
- prescription drugs
- dental care
- occupational therapy
- laboratory tests/x ray services
The amount of money you will pay for PACE services depends on your situation.
- if you have Medicaid, you will not have to pay the monthly premium for the long term portion of PACE
- if you do not have medicaid, you will be charged the monthly premium for the long term portion of PACE, as well as the Medicare PART D drugs premium
- if you do not have Medicare or Medicaid, PACE will be paid for privately
Community Health Care Clinics
You can receive free health care at community clinics located throughout the United States. There are over 1000 of these clinic across the country. These clinics are available to those who are uninsured with no medical coverage, who are of very low income. These health clinics cover a wide variety of medical care including dental care and mental health.
Federal Government Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)
This is a government organization that provides free or low cost health care to:
- underinsured individuals
- uninsured individuals
- low income individuals
- medically vulnerable individuals
- individuals who need help with medical bills
The health centers will provide intensive health care for individuals, and the patients only need to pay what the can afford based on their income. The health care services provided include:
- regular doctor check ups
- medical treatment when you are ill or injured
- prescribes prescription drugs that are needed
- dental care
- mental health care
This is a great services for seniors to use if they are having trouble with medical costs, especially if they are not a participant of Medicaid or Medicare. To find an HRSA clinic in your area visit HRSA locations and enter your location.
Senior Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP)
This is an information program that will give seniors guidance when it comes to health insurance, medical bills, and medical plans. Many seniors can have a difficult time deciphering through all the different medical programs available to them, so this resource can prove to be a big help.
To receive help from the SHIP program you can meet with the trained counsellor at your local area of aging office,or over the phone. The counsellors will help with the following:
- Medicare assistance, especially guidance on Part D of Medicare, which provides financial aid for prescription drugs
- assistance with health insurance, including denials and grievances
- assistance with Long Term Care Insurance as well as Medicare Advantage Plans
- medical bill assistance, including insight on financial assistance on medical bills for the low income
- information on disabled Medicare beneficiaries
To learn more and receive assistance for SHIP, please visit www.shiptacenter.org and begin by selecting your state.
Discount Medication & Drug Assistance Programs
Many drug manufacturers such as Pfizer, Eli Lilly, and Merck offer free or highly discounted prescription medications to people including seniors, who are of low income. The free products are usually awarded to individuals who do not have any sort of health insurance.
Ask your pharmacist who the manufacturers the drug you take, and get in contact with them to see if you can qualify for free or discounted medications. Many drug companies have some sort of patient assistance available. You can also visit needymeds.org which will provide information on the various patient assistance programs available.
Health Well Foundation
This is a non profit charity that helps individual including seniors, pay for their prescription drugs as well as co payments, premiums, co insurance, and any other out of pocket costs related to prescription medications. To be eligible for assistance, you must have some sort of health insurance, such as Medicare, Medicaid, or any private insurance that covers some of the cost of your medical treatment.
To learn more about the Health Well Foundation and to apply please visit healthwellfoundation.org.
Dental Assistance Programs
It can be very difficult for many senior citizens to have the ability to afford dental care, mainly because dental care is not covered under Medicare. An example of how dental health can be an issue for seniors is dentures. Many seniors need dentures, which can be expensive and are not covered by Medicare. Fortunately there are some dental assistance programs available for seniors, that can ease the burden of dental costs.
The Dental Lifeline Network
This is a resource which provides seniors with free or low cost dental services to seniors across the U.S. This resource provides a network of programs available in all states which are usually run by your state’s dental association. It works by volunteer dentists visiting dental offices to provide the dental care. There is a state by state directory available on the dental Lifeline Network website, where you can find further information on this subject.
There are many free and low cost dental care programs available throughout the U.S. that seniors can use. A great resource on locating the various programs available in each state by visiting freedentalcare.com.
Many community health centers across the U.S. offer health services for seniors including dental work on sliding scale payments. You can find a great resource on locating the health centers by clicking here.
Many dental schools will provide free or low cost dental care and hygiene for anyone in need, including seniors. These schools offer this because it allows students to gain real experience working on real people. There are many schools that offer these services through the United States.
It could be possible for low income seniors to receive free dentures if you look in the right places. Here are some good place to look for free dentures:
- contact your local Agency on Aging to see if they know of any sources
- your state’s dental association could provide free dentures or highly discounted dental programs
- local dental colleges sometimes offer free services as the students need experience, they could have free dentures as well
Dentists That Accept Medicaid
It can be difficult to find dentists that accept Medicaid, but if you do it can really help save on dental expenses. To find a dentist that accepts Medicaid, contact all the dental offices in your area. Also you can contact your state department of health, who might be able to guide you to a dentist that accepts Medicaid. Keep in mind you might have to do some travelling, however it can be well worth it.
Eye Care Assistance Programs
Most seniors need will vision assistance at some point, as vision deteriorates as one gets older. Cataracts, and glaucoma are some other big issues faced by seniors, who might not have enough funds available to get the proper eye care they need. In fact by age 65, 1 in 3 Americans will have some form of limiting eye disease. Fortunately, there are some different eye care programs available to seniors throughout the U.S.
Eye Care America
Eye Care America is a service provided by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, which provides free eye exams, as well as one year of eye care for low income individuals, such as seniors. You will receive a free eye exam and one year of free eye care if you have any serious eye problems such as glaucoma, cataracts, or diabetic retinopathy. Keep in mind this service does not include the cost of eyeglasses.
To qualify for Eye Care America services, you must meet the following criteria:
- age 65 and older
- have not see an ophthalmologist in the last 3 years
- do not belong to an HMO or any veterans vision care
Clicking here will allow you to input information to see if you qualify, and where to go to receive the eye care.
Another program which offers free eye exams for Americans including seniors is Vision USA. In order to be eligible, you must not be receiving any private or government insurance including Medicare, or Medicaid. You can apply by visiting here.
New Eyes For The Needy
This non profit organization offers free eye glasses to low income seniors throughout the United States. The new glasses are provided through a voucher program to eligible participants. To be eligible for the glasses you must meet the following:
- must be in financial need
- must have have a fairly recent eye exam
- cannot be covered under any other programs that cover eye glasses
If you are accepted for this service, you will receive a New Eyes eyeglass voucher that you will be able to use at participating local eye doctors. The eye doctors will then fit the participant with the proper prescription eye glasses free of charge.
To apply for this voucher program, you visit new-eyes.org.