Open enrollment is upon us. You have until December 7 to decide if you want to keep your Medicare plans the same, or pursue something different in 2020. To promote holistic (whole-person) wellness, many Medicare Advantage plans are increasing what kind of non-medical benefits they will offer in the new year.
Expanding definition of healthcare
Last year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) gave Medicare Advantage plans the green light to expand their definitions of healthcare. In addition to offering coverage for medical expenses, dental, vision, and hearing care, some Medicare Advantage plans are now offering more services that are not considered direct medical treatments.
New holistic Medicare Advantage benefits:
- Uber or Lyft rides for non-emergency medical transportation
- Diabetes education & cooking classes
- Appointments with a nutritionist
- Healthy meal & grocery delivery
- Grab bars
- Respite care for caregivers
- Air conditioners & carpet shampoo for asthma sufferers
Administrator of CMS, Seema Verma, said, “If someone has asthma, if [Medicare Advantage plans] just shampoo the carpet that might make the difference and keep [the patient] out of the hospital.” She also notes that this expansion makes it clear “that health outcomes are tied to a lot of different factors in a person’s life.”
Benefits vary between plans. For a comprehensive list of everything a Medicare Advantage plan covers, contact the insurer directly.
Medicare Advantage enrollment continues to grow
Medicare Advantage plans are increasingly popular, with around 30 percent of beneficiaries purchasing one of these private plans. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) anticipates nearly 50 percent of Medicare beneficiaries being enrolled in Medicare Advantage within the next decade.
Offering new, non-medical benefits is one reason why beneficiaries are drawn to Medicare Advantage plans. However, these private plans do have drawbacks, like smaller networks of healthcare providers, higher out-of-pocket costs, and higher premiums. Additionally, this type of expansion in Medicare Advantage leaves beneficiaries with Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) out in the cold.