Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part C plan is an alternative to Original Medicare and is offered by private health insurance companies. Original Medicare comprising of Part A and Part B is a federal government program covering hospital stays and physician services. Earlier most of the people used to have Original Medicare that has been changing over the past decade. Currently, about one-third of Medicare enrollees have a Medicare Advantage plan. Today more than 11 million more people have Medicare Advantage plan than 10 years ago. The prime reason behind the increased popularity of Medicare Advantage plan is its supplemental benefits. These plans not only offer dental, vision, and prescription drug coverage but in recent years, the federal government has allowed Medicare Advantage insurers to further expand its benefits.
In 2020 beneficiaries will receive more Medicare Advantage supplemental benefits
Now Medicare Advantage offer expanded services like meal delivery, home safety, rides to doctor appointments, and preventive care. In 2020 around 2.6 million Medicare Advantage enrollees will have access to expanded health-related supplemental benefits like adult care services or caregiver support services through 500 plans.
Medicare Advantage supplemental benefits have also expanded opportunities for chronically ill patients and offer benefits that improve health but are not directly connected to medical care. Such services include transportation for non-medical needs, grocery shopping, and improved home environments. Around 250 Advantage plans will provide such type of supplemental benefits in 2020, though their offerings will vary.
The supplemental benefits offered by the Advantage plans are going to depend on the plan, the insurance provider, and the market they are catering to and serving. For instance, if Medicare Advantage plan is serving a more rural area, then the plan will include supplemental benefits like transportation for doctor’s appointments, or if they are serving in a food deserted area, then they may include supplemental benefits like providing members access to fresh produce and groceries.
Some of the Medicare Advantage Supplemental Benefits are discussed below:
It is important for the people to dig out the plan information while comparing different Medicare Advantage options. One Advantage plan may come with specialized benefits for diabetes patients while another Advantage plan might focus on fitness. Find below some of the Medicare Advantage supplemental benefits that people are not generally aware of:
Some health insurance companies offering Medicare Advantage plans offer on-demand transportation supplemental benefits. Transportation to doctor appointments using Uber and Lyft cab services are offered to the plan members. Blue Shield of California, Humana, and Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield are health insurance companies offering transportation supplemental benefits to the enrollees of the Advantage plan. Another insurer, Amerigroup provides Medicare Advantage plan participants up to 60 one-way trips cost per year to health-related appointments or transportation cost of obtaining a service covered by the health plan.
Healthy Food Deliveries
Amerigroup health insurer announced that the company will provide up to 16 delivered meals four times in a calendar year i.e. a total of 64 meals for its qualifying members of Medicare Advantage plans. However, to qualify for these supplemental benefits members should have either be discharged from an overnight stay at a hospital or have a Body Mass Index of less than 18 or more than 25 or have an AIC level of more than 9.0. Some of the Medicare Advantage plans such as Zing offer healthy food delivery supplemental benefits.
This supplemental benefit is offered by Alignment Healthcare, which is a Medicare Advantage insurer that includes this benefit to address food insecurity among the members of the plan. The health insurer is offering a $10 to $20 per month grocery benefit to all its qualifying members. Some of the Medicare Advantage plans have a partner with grocery stores like Walgreens and Walmart to render this benefit.
Personal Home Helper
The health insurers are including this Medicare Advantage supplemental benefit in their offerings of a wellness package. Health insurer, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Connecticut is offering up to 124 hours of an in-home personal care aide to members to help them in their day-to-day activities like bathing, dressing, and grooming.
It is also a type of Medicare Advantage supplemental benefit offered to resolve the loneliness of the senior population. As the Alignment insurer, this benefit offers companion care, which connects college students with qualifying members of the Advantage plans who need aide with non-medical services. The non-medical services include light housekeeping and general companionship. The benefit program links college students with members requiring assistance with light household chores.
Dog Support Service
Some of the Medicare Advantage supplemental benefits include dog support service. Health insurer Anthem and Maine offering Medicare Advantage plans provide a wellness option of up to $500 annual allowance to help members pay for items used to care for a member’s service dog like leashes and vests. However, the dog should be certified under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The largest Medicare Advantage insurer, UnitedHealthcare has come with a program called HouseCalls. This benefit provides people an annual health and wellness visit from the comfort of home. This makes it easier for people to obtain the required healthcare, tests, and treatment. The company is expected to complete 1.7 million HouseCalls in 2019.