Low-Income Subsidies for the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit: The Impact of the Asset Test

Low-Income Subsidies for the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit: The Impact of the Asset Test

Low-income Medicare beneficiaries who want to take advantage of additional subsidies under the Medicare drug benefit could find themselves between a rock and a hard place. To qualify for extra assistance, they must have incomes below 150 percent of the federal poverty level — $14,355 for an individual in 2005 — and must have no more than $10,000 in assets ($20,000 for a couple), excluding a home, household furnishings, and automobiles. According to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, Low-Income Subsidies for the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit: The Impact of the Asset Test, after assets are considered, 2.4 million of the 14 million low-income Medicare beneficiaries will be ineligible for additional subsidies, half of them widows and widowers.