Information and Support to Care For Your Aging Parent

Ten Hidden Medicare & Medicaid Benefits for Seniors

Doctor and patient reviewing healthcare coverage, and discussing their Medicare and Medicaid benefits

Seniors often feel they’re unable to take full advantage of their Medicare and Medicaid benefits. Navigating health care coverage is difficult, and that becomes even tougher with medical issues that require routine treatment. While you probably know which basic benefits you qualify for, there are many extra perks and programs that often go unused. From routine check-ups to long-term care support, knowing about these benefits is key to help aging adults access affordable and effective healthcare. 

Medicare Benefits You Might Not Know

Medicare Preventative Services

Medicare offers a comprehensive range of preventive services. These are aimed at maintaining and improving the health of beneficiaries. Services include:

  • Yearly “wellness” visits to address general health concerns and speak with a nurse and/or doctor. 
  • Screenings for conditions such as cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. Vaccinations to prevent illnesses like influenza and pneumonia are also covered.
  • Counseling services are available to address various health concerns such as smoking cessation, nutrition, and depression.

By taking advantage of these preventive services, Medicare beneficiaries can detect health issues early, receive timely interventions, and ultimately lead healthier lives. It’s important for individuals to be aware of the specific preventive services covered by Medicare (full list here). It’s also important to discuss preventive care needs with healthcare providers.

Medicare Part D Coverage Gap Discount Program

The Medicare Part D Coverage Gap Discount Program provides financial relief to beneficiaries who reach the coverage gap, commonly known as the “donut hole,” in their Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage. Once beneficiaries reach this coverage gap, they typically have to pay a higher percentage of their prescription drug costs out of pocket. However, through this program, they receive significant discounts on brand-name and generic drugs purchased within the coverage gap. 

These discounts reduce costs for beneficiaries and make prescription medications more affordable during this phase of coverage. Medicare Part D beneficiaries who take advantage of this program find it much easier to manage their prescription drug costs. 

Medicare Advantage Plans (Part C)

Medicare Advantage plans, also known as Medicare Part C, are offered by private insurance companies approved by Medicare. These plans provide all the coverage of Original Medicare (Parts A and B) and often include additional benefits such as vision, dental, hearing, and prescription drug coverage. Many Medicare Advantage plans also offer wellness programs and gym memberships to help beneficiaries stay healthy. Additionally, some plans may have lower out-of-pocket costs and provide coverage for services not covered by Original Medicare. Beneficiaries should carefully review the benefits and costs of Medicare Advantage plans available in their area to choose the option that best fits their healthcare needs.

Medicare Savings Programs (MSPs)

Medicare Savings Programs (MSPs) help low-income Medicare beneficiaries pay for premiums, deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments associated with Medicare coverage. There are different levels of MSPs, including Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB), Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary (SLMB), and Qualified Individual (QI) programs. These programs can provide significant financial assistance to individuals with limited incomes, helping them access essential healthcare services without facing financial hardship.

Extra Help (Low-Income Subsidy) for Medicare Part D

The Extra Help program, also known as the Low-Income Subsidy (LIS), assists low-income Medicare beneficiaries by reducing their prescription drug costs under Medicare Part D. Extra Help helps cover Part D premiums, deductibles, and copayments, ensuring that eligible individuals have access to necessary medications without facing high out-of-pocket expenses. Beneficiaries automatically qualify for Extra Help if they are enrolled in Medicaid, receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or qualify for Medicare Savings Programs. Others may apply through the Social Security Administration to determine eligibility.

Medicaid Benefits You Should Be Using

Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services

Medicaid provides Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) to eligible individuals who need assistance with activities of daily living due to a disability, chronic illness, or aging. These services are designed to help individuals remain in their homes or communities instead of entering nursing homes or other institutional settings. HCBS can include personal care assistance, adult day care, respite care for caregivers, home health services, and transportation assistance. By receiving care in their own homes or communities, individuals can better maintain their independence. This means they receive needed care without interrupting habits and routines they’ve built up over decades. 

Medicaid Waivers

Many states offer Medicaid waivers that allow individuals to receive services at home or in community settings that are not typically covered by Medicaid. These waivers are designed to provide alternatives to institutional care. They help support individuals with disabilities or chronic illnesses who want to stay in their communities. Medicaid waiver services can vary by state. However, they may include home modifications, personal care attendants, assistive technology, and behavioral health services. Waiver programs often have waiting lists, and eligibility criteria may vary. Therefore, it’s essential that individuals and their families explore their options and understand the available services in their state.

Long-Term Care Coverage

Medicaid provides coverage for long-term care services for eligible individuals who meet certain income and asset requirements. Long-term care services can include nursing home care, assisted living facilities, and in-home care services. Medicaid is the largest payer of long-term care services in the United States and plays a crucial role in supporting individuals with chronic illnesses, disabilities, or frailties who require ongoing assistance with daily activities. Eligibility criteria for Medicaid long-term care coverage can vary by state, and individuals may need to spend down their assets to qualify for benefits.

Medicaid Transportation Services

Medicaid often covers transportation to medical appointments for eligible beneficiaries who have no other means of getting to their appointments. Transportation services may include ridesharing, public transit vouchers, non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) providers, or mileage reimbursement for individuals who use their vehicles. Access to transportation is crucial for ensuring that Medicaid beneficiaries can access necessary medical care, including doctor’s appointments, diagnostic tests, and treatment services. By providing transportation assistance, Medicaid helps remove barriers to healthcare access and improves health outcomes for vulnerable populations.

Dual Medicare & Medicaid Benefits

Dual Eligible Special Needs Plans

Dual Eligible Special Needs Plans (D-SNPs) are Medicare Advantage plans specifically designed for individuals who are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid benefits. These plans provide coordinated care and additional benefits tailored to the needs of dual-eligible individuals, including prescription drug coverage, dental, vision, hearing, and transportation services. D-SNPs aim to streamline healthcare delivery for dual-eligible beneficiaries, improve care coordination between Medicare and Medicaid services, and enhance the quality of care for this vulnerable population.


Understanding Medicare & Medicaid benefits is essential for seniors looking to navigate the healthcare system effectively. These programs offer seniors various forms of assistance. These services include routine check-ups, long-term care coverage, and transportation services. By familiarizing themselves with these additional benefits, seniors can better manage their healthcare needs and enhance their overall well-being. Stay informed, explore available options, and make use of these invaluable resources for improved health.

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