Medicare provides health care insurance for seniors ages 65 and older or individuals with disabilities. Nearly all Colorado seniors have health insurance because of this federal entitlement program. Still, Medicare’s cost-sharing requirements may be contributing to older adults spending 50 percent more in out-of-pocket health care costs than the total population in 2010, a level that can be challenging on fixed retirement incomes.
Medicare supplement insurance, sold by private companies, can help pay some of these costs. In addition, Medicare beneficiaries with low incomes may qualify for federal and state programs that cover all or a portion of Medicare premiums, cost-sharing and prescription drug expenses. But these programs - the federal Low Income Subsidy (LIS) and the state Medicare Savings Programs (MSPs) - have varying enrollments. An estimated 81 percent of eligible beneficiaries nationwide receive LIS. Enrollment in MSPs, however, ranges from an estimated 13 percent to 33 percent.