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Articles written by Lisa Baxter

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  • What Is IRMAA?

    Aging Services Specialist Lisa Baxter, For the Courier|Oct 25, 2023

    Well IRMAA is NOT a beautiful woman! IRMAA (Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amount) is a surcharge added to the Medicare Part B and Medicare Part D standard premiums for persons who have incomes above the income thresholds set annually by the Social Security Administration. These thresholds are calculated using a person’s MAGI (modified adjusted gross income) from the two years prior as reported on your federal income tax returns. The MAGI combines your adjusted gross income (AGI) and any non-taxable interest earned during the year. In 2024 t...

  • Cut Your Medicare Prescription Drug Costs With "Extra Help"

    Aging Services Specialist Lisa Baxter, For the Courier|Aug 16, 2023

    Great news: thanks to the new prescription drug law, the Inflation Reduction Act, in 2024 people with Medicare may qualify for even more savings through the Extra Help program. This program helps some people pay their Medicare drug coverage (Part D) costs, like premiums, deductibles, coinsurance, and other costs. In 2024, the program will expand and you may qualify. How does Extra Help lower my costs? In 2024, everyone who qualifies for Extra Help will pay: • $0 for your Medicare drug plan premium. • $0 for your plan deductible. • A reduc...

  • Medicare Coverage For Foreign Travel And Coverage For Snowbirds

    Aging Services Specialist Lisa Baxter, For the Courier|Jul 19, 2023

    Does Medicare cover me if I travel outside the United States? Original Medicare covers all 50 States as well as the District of Columbia, U.S. territories American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Medicare does not provide coverage outside the U.S. and its territories unless it is an emergency. On Cruise ships you will have Medicare coverage if the ship is in U.S. waters or is within six hours from a U.S. port. If you are traveling from the U.S. to Alaska going through Canada, Medicare will...

  • How Does Medicare Fraud And Abuse Affect Me?

    Aging Services Program Coordinator Lisa Baxter, For the Courier|Jul 12, 2023

    First what is the difference between Medicare Fraud and Medicare Abuse. Abuse is when Medicare is overcharged or unnecessary services are billed to Medicare. The net effect extra tax-payer funds are spent which depletes the Medicare Trust Fund. Medicare abuse is not always intentional but its effect on the Medicare program is the same. Examples of Medicare abuse are up-coding of a Medicare claim to a more complicated service or for longer time frames or adding billing modifiers for a higher level of service. Other examples include unbundling...

  • Low Income Subsidy/Extra Help for Prescription Drug Costs

    Aging Services Specialist Lisa Baxter, For the Courier|Mar 8, 2023

    Low Income Subsidy (LIS/Extra Help) program helps pay for a portion of Part D prescription drug plan costs, including Part D premiums, deductibles, and copayments. Depending on your income and assets, you may qualify for a full or partial subsidy. The Social Security Administration (SSA) and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) work together to administer LIS/Extra Help. Online applications are available There is a prescreen to see if you should proceed. Paper applications can be requested from...

  • New To Medicare?

    Aging Services Specialist Lisa Baxter, For the Courier|Feb 15, 2023

    Turning 65, decisions, decisions… A few months before you turn 65, you should learn about Medicare coverage choices and consider important enrollment times and your coverage options. You should start at least three months before you turn 65. Visit or call the State Health Insurance Program hotline: 1-800-551-3191 to be assigned a counselor near you. Your initial enrollment period (IEP) is three months before you turn 65, the month of your birthday and three months after. Most people will enroll in part A because its generally p...

  • Medicare Part B Changes For People New To Medicare For 2023

    Aging Services Specialist Lisa Baxter, For the Courier|Jan 11, 2023

    Starting Jan. 1, 2023, the start dates for Medicare Part B coverage will change. Coverage will start the first day of the month after a person signs up, if they sign up during the last three months of their Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) or during the General Enrollment Period (GEP). Before this change, if you signed up during the last three months of your IEP, your Medicare Part B coverage started two to three months after you enrolled. If you don’t sign up for Medicare Part B during your IEP, you have another chance every year during GEP whi...

  • Seniors Can Apply For The Montana Elderly Homeowner/Renter Tax Credit For The 2022 Tax Year

    Aging Services Specialist Lisa Baxter, For the Courier|Dec 14, 2022

    Are you a Montanan who is 62 or older as of Dec. 31, 2022? If yes, you will be interested in a legislative change to the Elderly Homeowner/Renter Tax credit for the tax year 2022. The new law doubled the income exclusion from $6,300 to $12,600 and increased the credit to $1,150. Would you qualify for the 2022 Montana’s elderly homeowner/renter tax credit? If you can answer “yes” to all of the following questions, then you may be eligible: 1. Were you 62 or older as of Dec. 31, 2022? 2. Did you rent, own, or lease a home in Montana for a total...

  • What are some considerations for Senior Citizens who plan to move?


    Two of the largest determinants of where a Senior may plan to move are their health status including whether they need assistance and what type of financial support they may need. If the Senior is married often times they may be able to live independently, however their spouse may need more support than they can provide. The cost of Independent Living Communities are on the average $2800.00 a month. The cost of Assisted Living can run over $4000.00 a month and at the highest spectrum are Nursing homes at well over $7000.00 a month. To fund...

  • What are Considerations for Senior Citizens Who Plan to Move?


    There are many reasons for older adults to consider moving to a new location; cost of living, house is too large and/or expensive to maintain, house has too many stairs or other navigation issues, limited access to appropriate or needed health care, retirement, warmer weather and poor physical or mental health are a few. Some seniors want to move closer to family members or that they may want to move into a smaller home that is easier maintain or an independent living facility where maintenance is taken care of by the facility. The decision to...

  • Medicare Advantage Plans vs Original Medicare

    Lisa Baxter, Special to The Courier|Dec 15, 2021

    I get many questions about Medicare Advantage Plans(MA). When I ask people why they are asking about them, most are saying it is because they had recently seen an advertisement on TV, received a post card in the mail or say something like my friend who lives in Billings has one and loves it. What generally is catching their attention is Advantage Plans saying they have zero premium, pay back part of their part B premium or say they cover dental, vision and hearing. If it sounds too good to be true, often it is! A Medicare Advantage Plan is anot... Full story

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