Few Medicare Advantage Plans Offering New Supportive Services Benefits in 2019
Only a small fraction of Medicare Advantage plans are offering newly-authorized supplemental benefits, such as adult day health care and personal care, in 2019. In April, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) finalized an expanded definition of "health-related" supplemental benefits that allows plans to offer more non-medical social supports to beneficiaries. According to analyses conducted by AARP and Avalere Health, while nearly half of all Medicare Advantage plans will offer new supplemental benefits in 2019, the most commonly offered new benefit is nicotine replacement therapy. AARP found that 13 percent of plans will offer caregiver supports (e.g., training and counseling), 3.4 percent will offer in-home support services (e.g., personal care), 0.9 percent will offer in-home palliative care, and 0.5 percent will offer adult day health care. In addition to these new benefits, both AARP and Avalere noted increases in the coverage of previously-authorized supportive services, such as non-emergency transportation, meals, nutrition counseling, and emergency response systems.
The slow roll-out of the new supplemental benefits was anticipated. Plans did not have much time between the adoption of the final rule in April and the deadline for submitting their 2019 benefits and bids. Depending on the plan and member experience with these services in 2019, more plans may offer health-related supplemental benefits in 2020.
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