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.

© 2021 MMIT

Lauren Flynn Kelly Managing Editor, Radar on Medicare Advantage

Lauren has been covering health business issues, including drug benefits and specialty pharmacy, for more than a decade. She served as editor of Drug Benefit News (the predecessor to Radar on Drug Benefits) from 2004 to 2005 and again from 2011 to 2016, and now manages Radar on Medicare Advantage. Lauren graduated from Vassar College with a B.A. in English.

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