Two million seniors eligible for medication-cost help

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Changes to the federal “Extra Help” medication-cost program that began in January 2010 have made benefits available to many seniors. But the federal government estimates that 2 million eligible candidates still haven’t signed on.

Extra Help, which also is called the low-income subsidy, provides financial assistance on monthly premiums, annual deductibles and prescription co-payments. The latter reduces costs to no more than $2.50 for generic prescriptions and $6.30 for brand-name prescriptions.

To qualify, you must be on Medicare, have an annual income of less than $16,335 ($22,065 for married couples) and assets of $12,640 ($25,260 for married couples) or less. Certain assets don’t count, including your home, vehicle, life insurance or financial help that you received from family and friends to pay for mortgage or rent, food and utilities. (Go to for details.)