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SHINE: Serving the Health Insurance Needs of Everyone

Lorraine York-Edberg, Western Mass. Regional SHINE ProgramLorraine York-Edberg, Western Mass. Regional SHINE Program DirectorThe Medicare Savings Programs, also known as the Massachusetts Buy-In Programs, are a set of benefits administered by our Massachusetts State Medicaid Agency. 

The programs are divided into several categories called the:

  • Qualified Medicare Beneficiary Program (QMB/Senior Buy-In)
  • Specified Low Income Medicare Beneficiary (SLMB/Premium Assistance)
  • Qualifying Individual (QI-1/Premium Assistance)

All of these programs assist beneficiaries with their Medicare Part B monthly Premium payment of $148.50 and offer assistance with a free Medicare Part D Drug Plan that offers reduced copays for your medications. In addition to those benefits, if you are eligible at the level of the Senior Buy-In Program/Qualified Medicare Beneficiary Program, the program pays your Part A and B deductibles and copays for Medicare services. 

This program expanded its income eligibility levels by 30% thanks to the hard work of the Massachusetts Senior Action Council, Governor Baker, and our Legislators.  In January of 2020 and in March of 2021, the state raised the eligibility levels in line with the current Federal Poverty Level. 

See If You Qualify 

If your income and assets are at or below the amounts listed here, you may qualify for help from one of these Medicare Savings Programs.

Income and Asset Limits Effective March 1, 2021
  Income / Month Assets
Single $1,771 $15,940
Married $2,396 $23,920
Prescription Drug Copayments with Extra Help Effective March 1, 2021
  Per 30-Day Supply
Generic $3.70
Brand Name $9.20

Additionally, these programs are not subject to estate recovery since January of 2010, so the state will NOT place a lien on your property to recover benefits following your death.

To apply, it is an easy, one-page application that is simple to fill out, with no verifications.  To get this application you can contact MassHealth at 1-800-841-2900 and request the Medicare Buy-In application and they can send it to you. Additionally applications are available online.

We also have applications available here at the regional SHINE office upon request.  If you need an application sent to you, or assistance completing one, please call us at 413-773-5555.  We are happy to help.

When does coverage begin? If you are eligible for MassHealth Senior Buy-In, your coverage begins in the month after MassHealth processes your application. If you are eligible for the Buy-In Program, in most cases the coverage begins as early as three months before your application month.

The SHINE program, Serving the Health Information Needs of Everyone, provides free, confidential, and unbiased health insurance counseling for Medicare beneficiaries. To reach a trained and certified counselor in your area, contact the regional office at 1-800-498-4232 or 413-773-5555.

Lorraine York EdbergLorraine York-Edberg, Western Mass. Regional SHINE Program DirectorIf you’re interested in healthcare and looking for a volunteer opportunity, consider signing up to become a SHINE counselor with LifePath. The 2021 Spring Training is starting in April, and there is no better time to get started.

SHINE, Serving the Health Insurance Needs of Everyone, is a program that provides free, confidential, and unbiased health insurance counseling for all Medicare beneficiaries. Volunteers in the LifePath SHINE program serve communities in all of Franklin County as well as the North Quabbin region of Worcester County and parts of Hampden and Hampshire counties.

SHINE counselors work one-on-one with individuals in their own communities providing information, counseling, and assistance on Medicare, Medigap, Medicare Advantage Plans, Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage, Public Benefits, One Care Plans, and more.

SHINE counselors work one-on-one with individuals in their own communities providing information, counseling, and assistance on Medicare, Medigap, Medicare Advantage Plans, Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage, Public Benefits, One Care Plans, and more. Those interested in becoming counselors should be comfortable working with a population consisting primarily of elders and people with behavioral health challenges and physical disabilities. 

SHINE Counselor Larry Bezio enjoys the volunteer work the program offers, adding that he finds “personal satisfaction to be able to help someone” and “good socialization” with other counselors.

Counselors benefit from ongoing monthly meetings, allowing them to stay up-to-date with new healthcare policies and programs, which “are always changing,” according to Lorraine York-Edberg, Western Regional SHINE Program Director. This year’s training is vast and comprehensive, and will address changes that have taken place in the past year.

The 2021 Spring Training is set to take place virtually via Zoom from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. with a break for lunch, then back to the training from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. beginning Thursday, April 29, 2021. Participants will meet virtually weekdays for 11 sessions. A graduation celebration will take place in July.

If you are interested, want to learn more, or wish to sign up, contact Lorraine York-Edberg, at 413-773-5555 x2275, 978-544-2259 x2275, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. For more information about the SHINE Program and other programs at LifePath, visit LifePathMA.org.

Lorraine York EdbergLorraine York-Edberg, Western Mass. Regional SHINE Program DirectorIf you’re interested in healthcare and looking for a volunteer opportunity, consider signing up to become a SHINE counselor with LifePath. The 2020 Spring Training is coming up in April, and there is no better time to get started.

SHINE, Serving Health Insurance Needs of Everyone, is a program that provides free, confidential and unbiased health insurance counseling for all Medicare beneficiaries. Volunteers in the LifePath SHINE program serve communities in all of Franklin County as well as the North Quabbin region of Worcester County and parts of Hampden and Hampshire counties.

The 2020 Spring Training is set to take place at LifePath in Greenfield from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with a break for lunch, beginning on April 2. Participants will meet weekdays for 11 sessions. A graduation celebration will take place in June.

SHINE counselors work one-on-one with individuals in their own communities providing information, counseling and assistance on Medicare, Medigap, Medicare Advantage Plans, Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage, Public Benefits, One Care Plans, and more. Those interested in becoming counselors should be comfortable working with a population consisting primarily of elders and persons with behavioral health challenges and physical disabilities.

SHINE Counselor Larry Bezio enjoys the volunteer work the program offers, adding that he finds “personal satisfaction to be able to help someone” and “good socialization” with other counselors.

Counselors benefit from ongoing monthly meetings, allowing them to stay up-to-date with new healthcare policies and programs, which are always changing. This year’s training is vast and comprehensive, and will address changes that have taken place in the past year.

The 2020 Spring Training is set to take place at LifePath in Greenfield from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with a break for lunch, beginning on April 2. Participants will meet weekdays for 11 sessions. A graduation celebration will take place in June.

If you are interested, want to learn more, or wish to sign up, contact me, Lorraine York-Edberg, Western Regional SHINE Program Director, at 413-773-5555 x2275 or 978-544-2259 x2275, or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. For more information about the SHINE Program and other programs at LifePath, visit LifePathMA.org.

The SHINE program, Serving the Health Information Needs of Everyone, provides free, confidential, and unbiased health insurance counseling for Medicare beneficiaries. To reach a trained and certified counselor in your area, contact the regional office at 1-800-498-4232 or 413-773-5555.

Lorraine York-Edberg, SHINE Regional Program DirectorLorraine York-Edberg, SHINE Regional Program DirectorAccording to a Press Release from the Governor’s Office, 40,000 more Medicare Beneficiaries across the state of Massachusetts will be eligible for the Medicare Savings Program. Starting January 1, 2020, income eligibility expanded for the MSP program from 135% to 165% of the Federal Poverty Level, and the asset limit doubled.

Starting January 1, 2020, income eligibility expanded for the MSP program from 135% to 165% of the Federal Poverty Level, and the asset limit doubled.

This is GREAT news for those who are newly eligible! It will increase the quality of life for many by directly increasing their income and adding significant benefits towards medications.

If you qualify, these programs will pay your monthly Part B premium ($144.60) and in some cases your Part A and B deductibles, co-pays and Part A premium (if you have one).

See If You Qualify

If your income and assets are at or below the amounts listed here, you may qualify for help from one of the Medicare Savings Programs.

Income and Asset Limits Effective Jan. 1, 2020
  Income/Month Assets
Single $1,738 $15,720
Married $2,346 $23,600
Prescription Drug Co-Payments with Extra Help Effective Jan. 1, 2020
  Per 30-Day Supply
Generic $3.60
Brand Name $8.95

And Better Still…

If you qualify for any Medicare Savings programs, you will also automatically qualify for a full subsidy under the Medicare Part D Low Income Subsidy (LIS), which is also known as "Extra Help." This program in many cases pays the monthly premiums for your Medicare Prescription Drug plan, provided you are enrolled in a qualified plan. The LIS will also assist with covering drugs at low cost and assist during the Part D deductible and coverage gap.

Additionally these programs are not subject to estate recovery since January of 2010, so the state will NOT place a lien on your property to recover benefits following your death.

To apply, it is an easy, one page application, and simple to fill out. To get this application you can contact MassHealth at 1-800-841-2900 and request the Medicare Buy-In application and they can send it to you. Applications are also available online. We also have applications available here at the regional SHINE office upon request. If you need assistance filling it out we are happy to help.

-This article is based on a news release from the Governor’s Press Office and Outreach Materials developed from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs.

The SHINE program, Serving the Health Insurance Needs of Everyone, provides confidential and unbiased health insurance counseling for Medicare beneficiaries. This is a free service, though contributions are welcome and will go a long way to help support this vital program. For further assistance with any Medicare issue, you can make a SHINE appointment. To reach a trained and certified counselor in your area, contact the regional office at 1-800-498-4232 or 413-773-5555, or contact your local council on aging.

Lorraine York-Edberg, SHINE Regional Program DirectorLorraine York-Edberg, SHINE Regional Program DirectorThe Centers for Medicare and Medicaid announced the Medicare Part A and B premiums and deductibles for 2020.

The standard monthly premium for Medicare Part B in 2020 will be $144.60, up from $135.50 in 2019, an increase of $9.10. The cost of this premium is normally taken out of your Social Security direct deposit. If you are not collecting Social Security yet, you will be billed the additional amount starting in 2020.

Social Security benefits are increasing by just 1.6% in 2020, which is about $16 for every thousand dollars received from Social Security. However, the 6.7% increase in Medicare Part B, will reduce the amount of increase you receive.

Medicare beneficiaries whose individual income is above $87,000 annually or a couple’s joint income above $174,000 annually will pay an increased amount for their Part B and Part D, called an income-related monthly adjustment amount, also known as “IRMAA.” The Federal government bases the 2020 adjustments on the beneficiaries’ 2018 Federal Income taxes. You may request a new initial determination by contacting your local Social Security office if you believe your IRMAA is incorrect. The monthly Part B premium for those who are enrolled helps pay for doctors' services, x-rays and tests, outpatient hospital care, ambulance service, medical supplies, and other medical equipment. 

The 2020 Part B annual deductible will be $198 for all people with Medicare, an increase of $13 from 2019. The Part B deductible is annual; once you have incurred $198 of expenses for Medicare-covered services in any year, the Part B deductible does not apply to any further covered services you receive for the rest of the year.

Social Security benefits are increasing by just 1.6% in 2020, which is about $16 for every thousand dollars received from Social Security.

Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) helps pay for hospital care, skilled nursing care, home health care, hospice care, and other services. The Part A deductible will increase from $1,364 to $1,408 for beneficiaries with Medicare only. The Part A deductible is the beneficiary’s only cost for up to 60 days of Medicare-covered inpatient hospital services. The 61st to the 90th day has increased from $341 to $352 a day, and beyond the 90th day has increased from $682 to $704 a day. For beneficiaries who have a Medigap plan to supplement Medicare, often most of these costs are covered by their supplemental insurance.

The skilled nursing facility coinsurance will increase from $170.50 to $176.00 for the 21st to the 100th day. Medicare Part A covers the first 20 days in a skilled nursing facility, after a three day qualifying stay in a hospital.

Many Medicare beneficiaries purchase additional insurance to cover the gaps of Medicare to help reduce out-of-pocket expenses including Medicare Supplemental Plans or Medicare Advantage Plans.  

This article is based on a news release from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The SHINE program, Serving the Health Insurance Needs of Everyone, provides confidential, and unbiased health insurance counseling for Medicare beneficiaries. This is a free service, though contributions are welcome and will go a long way to help support this vital program. For further assistance with any Medicare issue, you can make a SHINE appointment. To reach a trained and certified counselor in your area, contact the regional office at 1-800-498-4232 or 413-773-5555, or contact your local council on aging.