Medicare Savings Programs (MSPs) provide assistance to low-income Medicare beneficiaries to pay for their health care costs. While overseen at the federal level by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the MSPs are administered by each state’s Medicaid office.
States have a number of policy options to maximize access to MSPs for vulnerable older adults and younger adults with disabilities. These include increasing the income eligibility thresholds, increasing the asset limits and/or eliminating asset tests altogether.
Federal income & asset guidelines
The 2016 federal income and asset guidelines for the Medicare Savings Programs are as follows:
|Program||Monthly Income Guidelines
(includes standard $20 income disregard)
(does not include $1,500 burial disregard)
|Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB)||$1,010 single/$1,355 couple
|Specified Low-income Medicare Beneficiary (SLMB)||$1,208 single/$1,622 couple
|Qualifying Individual (QI)||$1,357 single/$1,823 couple
States count the burial disregard in differing ways; consult our fact sheet to learn more about how this is applied.
The table below outlines the choices that state Medicaid offices have made to either follow the federal guidelines, or to expand the income and resource criteria, or put no limit onto the amount of resources an applicant has. (Amounts are rounded to the nearest whole dollar.)
|State||Income Guidelines||Asset Limits|
|Alaska||Federal (higher; see chart)||Federal|
ALMB (QI): $2,435/$3,284
|District of Columbia||QMB: $2,990/$4,025||No limit|
|Hawaii||Federal (higher; see chart)||Federal|
Liquid assets only
|New York||Federal||No limit|
States have exercised the following options:
- Connecticut: Income limits increased to 211%/231%/246% FPL, with no standard disregard in order to align with SPAP program.
- District of Columbia: Increased income limits for QMB to 300% FPL. All applications are for QMB.
- Illinois: Increased disregards to $25 for single or $50 for couple.
- Indiana: Increased income limits to 150%/170%/185% FPL.
- Maine: Increased disregards to $75 for single and $100 for couples. Income limits increased to 140%/160%/175% FPL. Assets count liquid assets only.
- Mississippi: Increased disregard to $50.
- Nebraska: QMB program replaced with full Medicaid.
- South Carolina: QMB program provides full Medicaid.
Several states use different naming conventions for their programs from the standard nomenclature:
- Alaska: QI is called SLMB Plus
- Connecticut: QI is called ALMB
- District of Columbia: All applications are for QMB
- Maryland: QI is called SLMB II
- North Carolina: QMB, SLMB, and QI are called MQB, MQB-B, and MBQ-E respectively
- Nebraska: Federal QMB is replaced with full Medicaid. SLMB and QI are referred to as QMB.
- New Hampshire: QI is called SLMB-135
- Oregon: SLMB and QI are called SMB and SMF respectively
- Wisconsin: QI is called SLMB Plus
These charts and information are included in our downloadable MSP Eligibility and Coverage Chart.