2021 Flex Benefits Show COVID Influence, Insurer Comfort
Last year, Medicare Advantage plans for the first time were able to extend a variety of non-primarily health-related items and services to their chronically ill beneficiaries, but insurer adoption of these benefits was relatively small. In 2021, the availability of such benefits has more than tripled, suggesting carriers are becoming more comfortable with a variety of new supplemental benefits and the idea of incorporating cost offsets into their bids.
At the same time, an examination of 2021 Plan Benefit Package (PBP) data illustrates the heavy influence of the COVID-19 pandemic on benefit design, as more insurers are offering grocery delivery, virtual companionship and other services aimed at supporting isolated seniors. But whether those services are one-offs or will be sustained by insurers remains to be seen.