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New Report Spotlights Underuse of Medicare Savings Programs

Far too many people with Medicare have trouble affording their health coverage and care. AARP recently released a report on one set of programs that can help people pay some of these costs—the Medicare Savings Programs (MSPs). The report highlights the value of the MSPs, which AARP estimates will save enrollees at least $1,979 in Medicare premiums in 2023, as well as the struggle individuals may have learning about, qualifying for, and enrolling in the programs.

MSPs pay the monthly Medicare Part B premium on behalf of people with limited resources and may help with cost sharing as well. The eligibility criteria are very strict in many states, with low income and asset limits. But even for those who qualify, the MSP enrollment process is notoriously complex. This likely contributes to widespread under-enrollment; an estimated 40% of those who are eligible—2.5 million people—are not enrolled.

AARP lays out issues with eligibility as well as barriers to enrollment. For example, each state has its own enrollment process and application, and many states use the least generous eligibility criteria, despite the flexibility to offer assistance to more people.

The report outlines efforts from the federal government to increase awareness of the MSPs, make enrollment easier, and make retaining coverage easier once enrolled. The report also goes into what states can do and are already doing to improve access and increase eligibility for the programs.

This issue is especially relevant at the moment, as Medicare Rights has previously pointed out.  States will begin recertifying Medicaid eligibility soon. Those who no longer qualify will lose coverage, and enrollees who have difficulties navigating these burdensome administrative processes are also at risk. As part of this shift, Medicaid enrollees who first became eligible for Medicare during the pandemic but did not sign up will have to do so and apply for an MSP.

Read the article and report from AARP.

Read more about federal efforts to ease MSP enrollment.

Read more about what states can do to increase MSP eligibility.

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