Strategies For Making Ends Meet: Using Programs & Other Money-Saving Options

Health Care Costs


Medigap Insurance:

Medigap is supplemental insurance sold by private insurance companies to Medicare recipients, and it is designed to fill the “gaps” in health care not covered by Medicare. Be aware, however, that prescription coverage is available only under some types of Medigap policies, and that the coverage available is limited and can be expensive. You should also know that there are ten different versions of the Medigap policies available, identified as forms A (least expensive) through J (most expensive). Any specific form of a Medigap policy from one insurance company will be identical to the same form issued by any other insurance company. Prices however will vary from company to company for identical policies so it pays to shop around.

You can find out more about Medigap policies by calling SHIP, State Health Insurance Advisory Program, at 486-3478 or requesting the CMS publication “Choosing a Medigap Policy” at 1-800-633-4227.

This health plan is another option under the Medicare program, run by private companies. If you join one of these plans, you generally get all your Medicarecovered health care through that plan, which can include prescription drug coverage.

Plans include:

If you decide to join a Medicare Advantage Plan (provider) for your health care you use the health insurance card that you get from the plan. In most of these plans, generally there are extra benefits and lower copayments than in the Original Medicare Plan. However, you may have to see doctors that belong to the plan or go to certain hospitals to get services. You must first have Medicare Part A and Part B to join. You will have to pay the monthly Medicare Part B premium of $96.40 in 2009 to Medicare. In addition, you might have to pay a monthly premium to your Medicare Advantage Plan for the extra benefits that they offer. Medigap insurance is not needed and will not work under this plan.

For additional Medicare information, be sure you receive (or request) the current, state-specific “Medicare & You” booklet (1-800-633-4227) and/or call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213. Also, the State Health Insurance Advisory Program (SHIP) offers free help in understanding your options under Medicare. This is a state program that will give you unbiased information to help you decide which Medicare option is right for you. They will not, however, make a decision or recommendation for you—only you can do that. Contact SHIP at 486- 3478 or online at

Payment of Medicare Premiums by Medicaid

If you receive Medicaid, it will pay for both Part A and B of your Medicare premiums. According to the Nevada State Welfare Division, currently, Medicaid should start paying these premiums automatically when your application for Medicaid is approved.

For more information on any of these Medicaid options, call Nevada State Welfare Division at its main Las Vegas branch office (486-5000) or online at

Waiver of Medicare Part A Deductible for Inpatient Hospitalization Medicare Part A covers inpatient hospitalization (and does not include physician charges, outpatient services, or doctor visits). Several local hospitals have programs under which enrolled senior citizens will have their Medicare Part A deductible for Hospital Services waived if they are admitted to that hospital while enrolled in the program. The Medicare Part A (hospital cost) deductible for 2009 is $1,068.

Help with Medication Costs

This plan provides assistance with Medicare Part D expenses for members who are eligible for Part D and a cost-sharing benefit for members who are not eligible for Part D. The program is open and has an annual income requirement. For an application or additional Senior Rx information call toll-free 1-866-303-6323.

Some private insurance plans cover the costs of prescription medication. Find out about your options under your policy for using mail order pharmacies to fill the prescriptions for medication you take regularly. Often you can get a 90-day supply for less than you would spend on co-pay for a one-month supply at your regular pharmacy.

Community & Money-Saving Programs

American Association of Retired Persons (AARP)

Since 1958, AARP has been a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization that helps people 50 and over improves the quality of their lives. Membership includes travel and service discounts, insurance programs, monthly magazine, special events, volunteerism, advocacy, online community, important information on health, Medicare, Social Security and more. Member ship is $16/year, contact 888-AARP-NOW.


Home Expenses

Aging Services

The Las Vegas area has many, many more programs! Access programs and more information through: area senior/recreation centers, libraries, governmental agencies (i.e. Veteran’s Administration), national associations (i.e. Arthritis Foundation), health department, educational classes (i.e. Seniors CAN), senior/care giving referral services, internet resources and health fairs.