Home Supports, Meals Increase As Flex Benefits Rise Overall

Although Medicare Advantage insurers were somewhat slow to adopt newly expanded supplemental benefits in 2019, recent analyses of 2021 benefit offerings indicate large jumps in the uptake of certain offerings while others remain stagnant. Meanwhile, supplemental benefits specific to the COVID-19 pandemic may work to some insurers’ advantage during the Medicare Annual Election Period (AEP) that ends on Dec. 7, according to a new survey.

When CMS in 2018 issued guidance featuring an expanded definition of health-related supplemental benefits, it enabled plans in 2019 to begin offering services such as adult day care, home-based palliative care and transportation for non-emergent medical services. But many plans were reluctant to offer the new benefits for reasons such as timing — since the guidelines came out less than two months before bids for 2019 were due — and the need to contract with multiple entities like community-based organizations to facilitate the delivery of meals.

© 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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