2:30pm

Tue January 4, 2011
Shots - Health News Blog

Chubby Checker Can't Make Medicare Drug Subsidy Dance

Senior citizen and dancing fiend Chubby Checker still can twist. So maybe the script in the video from the Social Security Administration was the problem in getting people to sign up for help paying for prescription drug coverage.

Hi. I'm Chubby Checker

A new twist in the law makes it easier than ever to save on your Medicare prescription drug plan costs.

So what are you waiting for?

Maybe a clearer explanation of the benefits and the steps for getting them? As Kaiser Health News' Phil Galewitz reports, more than 2 million financially strapped Medicare beneficiaries who qualify for subsidized drug coverage haven't signed up.

At stake is aid the Social Security Administration figures is worth around $4,000 per person each year. Called Extra Help, the assistance helps defray the costs of drug plan premiums, copays and the gap in coverage called the doughnut hole.

There are lots of details, but a couple's assets can't exceed about $25,000, with some exceptions.

About 10 million of the nearly 25 million people who get drug coverage through Medicare Part D received a subsidy this year. More than 8 million of those people were automatically signed up for a subsidy, because, Galewitz writes, "they are on both Medicaid and Medicare or receiving other federal government support."

Yet a study out of Georgetown and the University of Chicago figured 2.3 million people were eligible for the help but didn't apply for it.

Maybe Chubby and Medicare should try the Cha Cha Slide instead? Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.