Medicare Advantage Beneficiaries Eagerly Await New Home Care Coverage

More than half of all Medicare Advantage (MA) members want their plans to cover assistance at home, according to a new survey. But despite new rules allowing it, the majority of beneficiaries will have to wait until 2020 or later for their plan to have that option.

Fifty-seven percent of members surveyed by HealthMine Medicare said they wanted to see home care offered by MA. It ranked as the second most desired new benefit among the 781 members surveyed, coming in only behind modification to home for medical needs (62%). HealthMine is a service company that uses research and analytics to help health plans improve clinical care while decreasing cost.

This survey comes after CMS announced in April that Medicare Advantage plans will be allowed to cover in-home care services for the first time in 2019. But because of time constraints, few insurers were able to develop new benefit packages by next year.

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As a result, only 3% of MA plans will offer in-home support services like personal care and housekeeping in 2019, according to AARP. And next year, only about 7% of MA members will have access to any kind of new supplemental benefits, according to estimates from Medicare officials.

Other newly allowed non in-home supplemental benefits will be offered at a much larger scale. For example, about 47% of MA plans will cover nicotine replacement next year, according to AARP.

Additionally, experts predict growth of new benefits will increase starting in 2020. More than 50% of MA plans are predicted to offer some sort of new supplemental benefits by then, according to Kenny Kan, a vice president at Avalere and former enterprise VP and chief actuary at insurance giant Humana (NYSE: HUM).

Also in 2020, CMS says MA enrollees will have more options for receiving telehealth services, thanks to a recently released proposed rule. When surveyed by HealthMine Medicare, 46% of MA members were unsure if their plan offered telehealth, while 37% said it was not covered.

Written by Bailey Bryant

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