- The Medicare QI program is a Medicare savings program.
- The QI program helps pay your Part B premiums.
- You’ll need an individual income of $1,456 a month or less in order to qualify for the QI program.
- You’ll need $7,860 or less in resources as an individual in order to qualify.
The Medicare Qualifying Individuals (QI) program helps Medicare beneficiaries cover their Part B premium. Your premium is the monthly fee you pay for your Part B medical coverage.
The QI program is one of four Medicare savings programs. These programs help individuals with limited incomes cover their healthcare costs. To qualify, you need to meet the program’s income requirements, and you must reapply every year to keep your coverage.
Keep reading for more information about the Medicare QI program.
Assistance comes from each state and is based on your income. As of 2020, there are four Medicare savings programs:
- Qualifying Individual (QI) program
- Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB) program
- Qualified Disabled and Working Individuals (QDWI) program
- Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary (SLMB) program
The program covers the cost of the Part B premium for people who qualify.
The QI program is for Medicare enrollees with Part A and Part B, and it’s intended to cover your Part B premiums. In 2021 the standard Part B monthly premium is $148.50. The QI program will pay this cost if you qualify.
The QI program won’t change your Part A costs — but most people don’t pay a premium for Part A anyway. So, if you have original Medicare with premium-free Part A and you qualify for the QI program, your total monthly premium would be zero.
Your eligibility for the Medicare QI program is based on your income. In 2020, the income limits for the QI program are $1,456 per month for individuals or $1,960 for married couples. The income limits are slightly higher in Alaska and Hawaii.
You’ll also need to be at or below the resource limit. In 2020, that means you’ll need less than $7,860 in resources as an individual or $11,800 as a married couple.
Resources include things like bank accounts or stocks. Medicare doesn’t consider high-value items like your car or home to be resources.
The income limits can change each year and are based on the federal poverty level (FPL). The FPL is calculated using data like the cost of living and the average salary in each state. Various programs use the FPL as a benchmark to qualify for programs like Medicare QI.
You aren’t eligible for QI benefits if you also qualify for Medicaid. But you can still apply for the program through your state Medicaid office. The office will determine which programs, if any, you qualify for.
Your first step is to make sure you’re eligible for Medicare and enrolled in Part A. You can then contact your state Medicare savings program office. Your state office will have the application you need to fill out and can also give you instructions and assistance.
You’ll likely need to provide some information about your finances with your application. This might include:
- your recent paystubs
- your most recent tax returns
- your checking and savings account statements
- statements from your pension or other retirement programs
- information on any stocks you own
Medicare encourages anyone who thinks they might be eligible for the QI program to apply. Medicare beneficiaries whose income is close to the qualifying line — and even if it goes slightly over — should apply.
There’s no cost to apply, and even if you don’t qualify for the QI program, you could be eligible for a different Medicare savings program. And because the FPL is recalculated each year, the income limits might be higher in the following year.
For example, if you’re looking for assistance in 2021 and have an individual income of $1,490 per month, you should apply for the Medicare QI program. The income limit in 2021, is $1,456, but changes to the FPL for 2021 might increase that limit.
That means that if you don’t qualify in 2020, you could qualify in 2021, even if your income doesn’t change. So, if you’re close to the limit or just not sure whether you’d qualify or not, it’s always best to apply.
You’ll need to reenroll in the QI program each year. Applications for the QI program are approved on a first-come, first-served basis, so you’ll want to apply as early as possible. Priority is given to people who were enrolled in the QI program the previous year.
- The Medicare QI program is one of four Medicare savings programs. It helps Medicare beneficiaries with limited incomes pay their Part B premiums.
- You’ll need to apply through your state and meet the income requirements to qualify.
- If you qualify for the QI program, you’ll also be automatically qualified for Part D Extra Help.