More Seniors Eligible for Big Medicare Drug Subsidy

03/23/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

A million low-income seniors have become eligible for big assistance on prescription drug expenses this year, under a newly expanded federal program. The subsidy can defray thousands of dollars in costs, and in many cases, can eliminate prescription drug expenses entirely for participating seniors.

The Extra Help Program - administered by the Social Security Administration - subsidizes Medicare Part D prescription drug premiums for eligible seniors. While the program isn't new, eligibility rules have been changed this year in a way that expands availability dramatically.

The government estimates the average annual benefit to Extra Help individual participants at $3,900. That should be welcome news for low-income seniors coping with soaring Part D premiums. Average monthly premiums jumped 11 percent for 2010, and they've risen 50 percent since 2006, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

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