Medicare Advantage (MA) plans are now allowed to tout the benefits they will be offering their members in 2023. Home-based care providers should be “delighted” at what the preliminary data shows.
That’s according to Tyler Cromer, a principal at the Washington, D.C.-based research and advocacy organization ATI Advisory.
Specifically, in-home support services (IHSS) will be available in 1,091 MA plans in 2023, which accounts for almost one in every five plans. That number is up 13% from 2022, according to ATI Advisory.
“The growth for in-home support services is really significant,” Cromer told Home Health Care News. “I don’t think it’s out of line with what we would expect. But if anything, it’s a little bit higher than we might have expected. This is really significant growth, both in real numbers and as a percentage of the overall number of plans. It’s really exciting.”
The 1,091 plans offering IHSS are the ones doing so through the primarily health-related benefits. IHSS are unique in that plans have the ability to offer them through the primarily health-related pathway or through the Special Supplemental Benefits for the Chronically Ill (SSBCI) one.
Data on the latter won’t be available for a couple of months. But for context, 216 plans offered IHSS through the SSBCI pathway last year.
“It’s really good news for home-based care providers,” Cromer said.
IHSS is one of the non-medical supplemental benefits that has gained serious traction over the past four years. It also happens to be one of the benefits home care agencies can help facilitate through partnerships with plans.
Furthermore, it’s likely that plans will take learnings from the past few years and apply them to their offerings in 2023 and beyond. For instance, plans began offering benefits like IHSS early on, but often without many hours attached to them.
That, in turn, led to providers becoming wary over engaging with plans because of how tough it made staffing those MA cases from a logistical standpoint.
“There is growing awareness that to provide these benefits and deliver them, these benefits need to make sense for home care providers,” Cromer said. “So they need to be a number of hours that can be staffed, they need to be at rates that allow for home care providers to provide high-quality services.”
Many plans began releasing their press statements and the benefits they’d be offering in recent days.
In those, the home remained a major part of what MA plans seem to be honing in on when it comes to supplemental benefits, reflecting the demand among members for those types of services.
“In-home support is a growing and relevant part of Medicare Advantage,” Cromer said. “If [home-based care providers] weren’t thinking about this before, it is time for them to think about what this means for their business and how they can provide services to Medicare Advantage beneficiaries.”