Surveys have shown that cognitive decline is a chief concern among aging adults, yet brain health and “memory fitness” remain largely untapped areas as Medicare Advantage insurers experiment with new benefit design flexibility. But as a growing body of research builds a clinical case for so-called “brain training” programs, Posit Science is eager to get its own BrainHQ exercises in front of MA enrollees and says three insurers have incorporated them into supplemental benefits for 2020.
When advising MA organizations on newly expanded supplemental benefits, CMS in an April 2018 memo highlighted a “standalone memory fitness benefit” as one of nine potential services that could be offered starting in 2019 (RMA 5/17/18, p. 1). But a Milliman, Inc. analysis of the 2019 plan benefit package files did not identify any new standalone memory fitness benefits being offered that year. And in 2020 it continued to receive less attention than buzzworthy benefits such as nutrition or transportation or acupuncture (which was offered by 32 plan IDs in 2020, according to a CMS summary of supplemental benefits highlighted on the Medicare Plan Finder). Nevertheless, “the strong clinical case, plus its low cost, suggests it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a common offering,” predicts Michael Adelberg, principal with FaegreBD Consulting and a former top CMS MA official.