HSD makes it easier for low-income seniors to afford Medicare

HSD makes it easier for low-income seniors to afford Medicare

SANTA FE – The New Mexico Human Services Department (HSD) announced it has eliminated a burdensome requirement that made it difficult for low-income seniors to get help paying for Medicare. The previous requirement meant low-income individuals could not have assets or resources, such as a home or savings account, with a value exceeding $9,360 for an individual or $14,800 for a couple. HSD eliminated the resource requirement to make it easier for low-income New Mexicans to afford the health care they need through Medicare by helping with their premiums, copays and other Medicare cost-sharing requirements.

“We know Medicare out-of-pocket costs can be unaffordable for some low-income seniors, making it harder for them to access needed health care services,” said HSD Deputy Secretary Kari Armijo. “This change will make it easier for people who may have a home or modest savings to get help paying those costs, so they don’t have to delay or forego the care they need.”

HSD administers several programs called Medicare Savings Programs (MSPs) that help low-income New Mexicans pay some or all their Medicare premiums, deductibles, co-pays and/or co-insurance. To qualify, individuals must be eligible for Medicare and have income below 135% of the federal poverty level (FPL), which equates to an annual income of less than $17,388 for an individual or less than $1,449 per month.

Most states have resource requirements that can make it challenging for people to qualify, even when they have limited incomes. In New Mexico low-income seniors who have homes or savings were excluded from participation in the program and verifying this information from applicants was costly and administratively burdensome for HSD. Eliminating the resource requirement will not only make it easier for people to afford the care they need from Medicare, but also streamline processes and reduce administrative costs at HSD.

“Very few low-income seniors actually have resources exceeding the previous limits,” said Armijo. “There was considerable administrative cost associated with checking and verifying this information for every MSP applicant, causing unnecessary delays in the application process and making it harder for people to get the care they need.” Elimination of the resource requirement went into effect January 1, 2021. There are currently 51,126 individuals enrolled in a Medicare Savings Program category with HSD.

Low-income individuals can apply for help with their Medicare cost-sharing requirements at www.yes.state.nm.us, by calling HSD customer service at 1-800-283-4465, or by visiting an HSD Income Support Division field office.

The Human Services department provides services and benefits to 1,100,445 million New Mexicans through several programs including: the Medicaid Program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Child Support Program and several Behavioral Health Services.