Cutting costs in Medicare and getting Extra Help.

Do you feel like screaming when you pick up your prescription at the pharmacy and the cashier gives you a nervous look because she knows how high much you will have to pay?
The Medicare coverage that may be the most expensive is, indeed, Part D, coverage of prescription drugs. This is not the fault of Medicare but, rather, can be laid at the doorstep of the drug manufacturing companies that are basically free to set their own pricing.

However, here are three ways to make prescription drugs easier on the pocket:
1. Take fewer or less expensive drugs
2. Qualify for Extra Help
3. Deduct medical expenses from your federal income tax

Review your prescriptions

First of all, make sure you are only taking what you need. If you have prescriptions from a number of doctors, there may be duplication. Review all of your medications with a trusted pharmacist to see if you can cut down on any meds – and also to ensure you are not taking any that may be harmful in combination with others.
Talk to your doctor about taking a generic alternative to a brand name drug you are using. Generic drugs are cheaper and, usually, equally as good as the branded ones. You will also be able to find this information out by finding what Tiers your drugs fall in with your Part D plan.

Another alternative is to use a mail order drug plan that provides a 90-day supply. These may have lower pricing than a pharmacy and, often, have lower co-pays.
As in all cases, consult your doctor or pharmacist about any planned changes.

Extra Help

If your income is below a certain level, you may qualify for a Part D Extra Help program. In 2016, you had to make less than $16,335 annually as a single person or $22,065- as a couple to qualify. You also had to have financial resources, meaning bank account, investments but not home, car or life insurance, of less than $12,640 if single or $25,260 if married.
Help may pay expenses for Part D premiums, co-payments and/or deductibles. You will need to contact Medicare – or me – to get help finding out if you quality. You will apply through the Social Security Administration site.

Income tax deductions

Costs of healthcare can be deducted (Schedule A, form 1040) as a medical expense. There are IRS rules that apply, so it is best to consult an expert.
A few of the expenses that can be deducted: Premiums paid for Parts A, B, D, Medicare Advantage or Medigap; out-of-pocket deductibles; and co-pays. There are others on a list available from the IRS.
Expenses not deductible are those not covered by Medicare, such as dental, hearing aids or nursing homes. Also not deductible are cosmetic surgery, non-prescription meds or meds bought outside the U.S.

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