Newly extended additional benefits in Medicare Advantage increased by 43% for 2022

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Medicare Advantage plans offering at least one newly extended additional benefit increased by 43% between coverage year 2021 and coverage year 22, finds new analysis of the Better Medicare Alliance.

The results show that, as part of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reinterpretation of “predominantly health-related” benefits, the additional benefit offerings in Medicare Advantage – such as palliative home care, support services at home, caregiver support and therapeutic massage – everything has increased for the coming year.

Along with the 43% jump in extended benefit offers, the number of plans offering more than one benefit increased by 15%, from 175 to 202.

The Biden administration projects to register 29.5 million Medicare Advantage beneficiaries in the coming year. Additional benefits are not available in paid health insurance.

Guidelines published in both 2018 and 2019 fromCMS has expanded the type of additional benefits that Medicare Advantage plans are allowed to offer.

WHAT IS THE IMPACT

Medicare Advantage plans (private plans providing Medicare benefits) must cover all benefits covered by original Medicare at a cost-sharing level that is, in aggregate, no higher than that of original Medicare. MA plans can offer additional benefits such as dental care, vision, and fitness.

Under CMS guidelines released in spring 2018, the plans were given more flexibility regarding the benefits they were allowed to offer. This new flexibility expanded the types of additional benefits that could be provided to all registrants (referred to as’ primarily health-related ‘for additional benefits’), and also allowed plans to offer cost-sharing or benefits. different additional benefits to specific subsets of their registrants.

In spring 2019, CMS further expanded the flexibility of these benefits by allowing MA plans to offer special additional benefits for chronically ill people.

Home support services have seen the strongest growth in prevalence among these plan benefits, particularly from 2020 to 2022. The prevalence of caregiver support of registrants almost doubled from 2020 to 2022, bringing it to a low level. similar to palliative home care. and therapeutic massage, both of which saw slight increases between 2021 and 2022.

With the exception of therapeutic massage from 2020 to 2021 and adult day health services from 2021 to 2022, the prevalence of all identified benefits has increased each year.

THE BIGGEST TREND

Insurers are expanding their Medicare Advantage offerings at a decent rate, with Humana announcing in October that it will launch a new Medicare Advantage PPO plan in 37 rural North Carolina counties in response to market demand in the eastern part of the state. .

Around the same time, UnitedHealthcare, which already has significant market control with its MAID plans, said it would strengthen its presence in the space by expanding its MAID plans in 2022, adding 3 , 1 million potential members and reaching 94% of Medicare-eligible consumers. in the USA

For the third year in a row, health insurer Cigna is expanding its Medicare Advantage plans, expanding to 108 new counties and three new states – Connecticut, Oregon and Washington – which will increase its geographic presence by nearly 30%.

Centene is also getting into the act, expanding MA to 327 new counties and three new states: Massachusetts, Nebraska, and Oklahoma. In total, this represents a 26% expansion of Centene’s MA footprint, with the offering available to 48 million potential beneficiaries in 36 states.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said in late September that the average premium for Medicare Advantage plans will be lower in 2022 at $ 19 per month, down from $ 21.22 in 2021. However, Part D coverage drops to $ 33 per month. months, compared to $ 31.47. in 2021.

Master’s enrollments continue to increase, CMS said. By 2022, it is expected to reach 29.5 million people, up from 26.9 million enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan in 2021.

Twitter: @JELagasse
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Richard V. Johnson