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Help available for seniors

October 23, 2009
Times Leader
IN?ECONOMIC times like these, every dollar counts. Estimated to be worth an average of $3,900 a year, there may be “Extra Help” for prescription drug plan costs especially for senior citizens who have limited income and resources.
Anyone who has Medicare can get Medicare prescription drug coverage. Some with limited incomes and resources are also eligible for “Extra Help” with the costs of monthly premiums, annual deductibles and prescription co-payments for a Medicare plan.
The Buckeye Hills Area Agency on Aging 8 (AAA8) has more details on this “Extra Help” or Low-income Subsidy (LIS) available in Ohio as well as other programs that may assist those who are 60+ and on limited incomes.
“We know that many people in our rural region qualify for these big savings but they don’t even know it,” said Buckeye Hills AAA8 Director Rick Hindman.
“They can find out more information about this and other helpful programs by calling our office. Trained professionals will help assess what programs seniors may be eligible for and assist with getting them enrolled.”
Medicare beneficiaries who have limited income may qualify for extra help to pay for prescription drug costs. The “Extra Help” provides assistance paying for monthly premiums, annual deductibles, prescription coinsurance and co-payments and no gap in coverage.
Hindman explained that some seniors face what is called the Medicare “Doughnut Hole.” This is a gap in coverage that forces people who had been getting their drugs cheaply to suddenly pay the full price out of pocket.
One unsettling finding in the national research shows that of the seniors who meet the “Doughnut Hole” about 15 percent who take medications said they stopped taking them when they reached the gap – simply because they could not afford them. Others noted that they began skipping doses or taking medications that were not as effective.
In 2009, seniors enter the “Doughnut Hole” once total drug costs reach $2,700. This amount includes any money the play paid for drugs as well as out-of-pocket expenses. While in the “gap,” they are responsible for 100 percent of drug costs. The “Doughnut Hole” ends when total drug costs reach $6,153 – when the plan begins to pay 95 percent of drug costs for the remainder of the year.
To find out more about the “Extra Help” available or to learn about other programs, call AAA8 at 1-800-331-2644 or visit 
Home Heating Assistance
Do the high costs of groceries, medicine and gas have you worried about home heating bills?
Residents of the AAA District 8 who are age 60+ can find out in minutes if they qualify for Ohio’s home heating assistance programs.
For an application location in your area, call (800) 331-2644.
Programs include Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) and Percentage of Income Payment Plans (PIPP) and E-Heap (emergency heat assistance) can assist low-income seniors.
HEAP is a federally funded program designed to assist eligible low-income Ohioans with their winter heating bills.
Households may be eligible for assistance from HEAP if the household’s income is at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines, an increase from the previous level of 175%.
The income guidelines to be eligible for HEAP are listed below:
Household    Income
1    $21,660
2    $29,140
3    $36,620
4    $44,100
5    $51,580
6    $59,060
7    $66,540
8    $74,020
If eligible, the amount of benefits will depend on Federal funding levels, how many people live in the home, total household income and the primary fuel used to heat the home.
In most cases, benefits will be a credit applied to the energy bill by the utility company.
This is a one-time benefit. If eligible for weatherization services, an application will be obtainable by the agency providing services.
The types of assistance received will be based on the home’s energy efficiency.
If the applicant lives in federally subsidized housing and has a utility bill they may be eligible for assistance. Learn more about Ohio’s programs by calling the Area Agency on Aging at 1-800-331-2644.


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