Medicare Advantage plans are moving more benefits into the home in 2022. In-home primary care, transportation, meals and in-home support are just a handful of new benefits private insurers are offering to lure seniors away from traditional Medigap plans.
“2022 may be the first year that (MA) plans have really been able to think about what really makes sense for their members and for their particular market position,” Tyler Overstreet Cromer, principal at healthcare and aging services consultant ATI Advisory, told McKnight’s Home Care Daily. “I think what we are seeing is some maturing of the marketplace and some interesting and impactful member benefits coming out.”
Enrollment in MA plans has been gaining momentum since 2019 when the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services expanded what could be offered as a healthcare benefit and gave MA plans greater flexibility in their offerings. As a result, 42% of Medicare beneficiaries were covered by MA plans in 2021, according to ATI Advisory.
With open enrollment for MA plans starting Oct. 15 and running through Dec. 7, private insurers recently began marketing next year’s menu of options to eligible seniors.
Cigna is expanding into three additional states in 2022, giving it access to Medicare beneficiaries in nearly half of all U.S. states. Among Cigna’s newest offerings is a social connection program that gives beneficiaries access to a partner to help with activities of daily living, such as meal preparation, transportation, chores and companionship.
Clover Health, which offers MA programs in 11 states, is introducing in-home primary care for seniors with complex medical conditions and transportation services for non-emergency medical services. Clover members will be able to schedule trips to see medical providers through an app.
Amerigroup, a division of Anthem, is taking an even deeper dive into the home. The Seattle-based MA firm is offering 60 hours annually of in-home support services that includes light housekeeping, errands, tech support and companionship. Amerigroup members will also have access to a personal care aide to help with activities of daily living up to 124 hours annually. Additionally, members can also get a $500 allowance for assistive devices, such as toilet seats, shower stools and reaching devices.
The Biden administration has proposed expanding Medicare benefits to include vision, dental and hearing aids. Cromer speculated that could have influenced private insurers to expand their MA offerings for next year as well. But she thinks more likely, the companies were simply responding to consumer demand.
“The reason that everyone is thinking about more services in the home is because so many people want to age in place and the pandemic put this shining spotlight on the fact that so many people want to be at home anyway,” Cromer said.