Newer supplemental benefits like access to in-home support services or a personal care helper have helped Anthem Inc. (NYSE: ANTM) attract and retain Medicare Advantage (MA) members over the past couple of years.
Perhaps it’s no surprise then that the Indianapolis-based Anthem and a number of its affiliated health plans are adding on to their benefits packages for the 2022 plan year.
“Anthem is incredibly, deeply focused on making sure that we are addressing all the aspects of full-person health, including, very importantly, social determinants of health,” Elena McFann, president of Anthem’s Medicare business, told Home Health Care News. “Social determinants of health are actually far more likely to drive a health outcome than whether or not someone gets clinical care at a hospital or with a physician.”
With its affiliated companies, Anthem serves more than 106 million people, including 42 million within its portfolio of health plans. As of the second quarter of 2021, Anthem’s overall customer base included 1.82 million MA members, according to company statistics.
Similar to past years, Anthem and its affiliated plans are offering expanded supplemental benefits through two main packages, branded as either “Everyday Extras” or “Essential Extras.” The details of the packages were unveiled Friday.
MA open enrollment starts Oct. 15, meaning most major payers begin touting their plans for the coming year at the beginning of the month.
“We’ve looked at every one [of the benefits] very carefully from the lens of, ‘Is this going to address full health? Will this address food insecurity, home safety and social isolation?’” McFann explained. “We have to make sure that the people whom we serve are getting a personalized and proactive health care experience.”
In the “Everyday Extras” and “Essential Extras” packages, members are able to choose from a list of benefits, many of which revolve heavily around in-home care.
New for 2022, for example, Anthem and certain affiliated plans will offer members up to 60 hours of in-home support from an “at-home technician” who can assist with light housekeeping, errands, companionship and other tasks. That technician will come from the Miami-based “family on-demand” company Papa, McFann noted.
“That is intended to help people with their daily tasks,” McFann said. “And it also addresses social isolation, which is just so critical right now.”
Since its launch in 2017, Papa has expanded to all 50 states. In September, it announced a new partnership with Milliman’s HealthIO program.
“Papa is proactive, while most services in health care are reactive,” Papa CEO Andrew Parker told HHCN at the time.
In addition to the in-home support benefit, certain plans will also give members access to a personal home helper benefit, which provides up to 124 hours of personal care support for assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs).
“That all goes back to home health and redefining how we play in the health space,” McFann said. “We actually have found that our supplemental benefits like the personal home helper are ones that drive increased sales and, by the way, increased retention.”
Other supplemental benefits being offered include ones for transportation, pest control, healthy meals and more.
MA plans are able to offer supplemental benefits for services like Papa and personal care support because of rulemaking from the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in 2018 and 2019.
That ability has bolstered Anthem’s ability to care for members during the COVID-19 pandemic, when issues like food insecurity and housing problems have skyrocketed, according to McFann.
“This is our second year in a row … for bid planning in a pandemic,” she said. “What we have seen is an increase in food insecurity, plus significant increases in social isolation and a need to help our seniors get to physician appointments. Because who is going to get on public transportation? Many of them are not comfortable doing that yet.”
In 2021, more than 26 million people were enrolled in an MA plan, accounting for 42% of the total Medicare population, according to Kaiser Family Foundation data.