A whole new group of Medicare Advantage plans has been created for 2019, 417 new plans to be exact. With this increase in plans, 2019 has become the year with the second most available Medicare Advantage plans since 2007. The total amount of Medicare Advantage plans available in 2019, according to Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), is 2,734.
As of 2019, 99 percent of Medicare beneficiaries have access to at least ten Medicare Advantage plans . In fact, beneficiaries on average have access to 14 to 26 Medicare Advantage plans in their area.
Not only are new plans being added to the mix, but new benefits as well. Carriers who sell Medicare Advantage plans are now allowed to include supplemental benefits such as home health care and adult day care services. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has also finalized the rule that will allow Medicare Advantage plans to include telehealth benefits in 2020.
Depending on your Medicare Advantage plan, you may have access to
these benefits by 2020.
Home Health Care Benefits
Home health care benefits include things like in-home custodial care, home modifications, adult day care services, transportation services, and meal delivery. It’s said that nearly 300 Medicare Advantage plans are going to include home health care benefits such as the ones listed above.
These benefits are an invaluable addition to Medicare Advantage plans because Original Medicare doesn’t cover these things unless they are medically necessary. For instance, in-home custodial care is help with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, and feeding. This type of care is only covered by Original Medicare if you are also receiving skilled nursing care and if it’s for a short period.
This added supplemental benefit will help many seniors stay more independent by allowing them to stay at home rather than moving to a nursing home. According to CMS, about 1.5 million Medicare Advantage beneficiaries will have access to home health care benefits this year. As more Medicare Advantage plan carriers catch on, we may even see more plans offering this benefit next year in 2020.
As the average cost for Medicare Advantage plans goes down, the quality of benefits seems to grow. A great example of this is the new telehealth benefits that will come into play as of 2020. “With these new telehealth benefits, Medicare Advantage enrollees will be able to access the latest technology and have greater access to telehealth.” Says CMS Administrator, Seema Verma.
In the past, Original Medicare has offered some telehealth benefits. However, the availability beneficiaries have had to this benefit has been limited by rules and restrictions. In 2020, Medicare Advantage enrollees with access to this benefit will be able to communicate with their doctor from the comfort of their own home rather than going to a facility like Original Medicare currently requires.
Another restriction of the telehealth benefit under Original Medicare is that it is only available to certain people in specific rural areas. Because Medicare Advantage plans in both rural and metro areas will likely offer this benefit, more beneficiaries will have access to telehealth coverage.
Home health care and telehealth are becoming more important to beneficiaries as the world continues to innovate. As more beneficiaries seek Medicare Advantage plans that offer home health care and telehealth benefits, we predict more carriers will add these benefits to their plans.
CMS also predicts “continued growth in 2020.” They expect that even more Medicare Advantage plans will be created, and beneficiaries will have endless options.
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