Amid COVID-19 Pandemic, New Study Shows Prevalence of Supplemental Benefits in Medicare Advantage

Over two-thirds of Medicare Advantage plans now cover remote access technologies, nearly half offer meal benefits

Washington, D.C. – As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold, the Better Medicare Alliance (BMA) today released the findings of a new independent study by the actuarial firm Milliman highlighting the growth of key supplemental benefits in Medicare Advantage, including those that may be particularly helpful to seniors amid this global health care emergency.

The study, completed before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, offers an up-to-date look at the exact number of Medicare Advantage plans offering various supplemental benefits, ranging from vision coverage and fitness benefits – now offered across 95 percent and 89 percent of plans respectively – to benefits like over-the-counter medication cards (3,056 plans), remote access technologies (2,858), meal benefits (2,048), and even coverage of personal emergency response systems such as Life Alert (647 plans).

The report further depicts how Medicare Advantage is using the flexibility granted by federal guidance issued last year to develop new Special Supplemental Benefits for the Chronically Ill (SSBCI) which range from pest control (118 plans) to food and produce (101 plans) to service dog support (51 plans) and structural home modifications (44 plans).

“The coronavirus pandemic has underscored in sobering ways the deeply personal nature of health care, particularly for seniors. As this study shows, Medicare Advantage continues to innovate with new tools to help seniors stay on the path to wellness, including benefits such as telehealth and meal delivery that can keep seniors safe at home,” said Allyson Y. Schwartz, President and CEO of the Better Medicare Alliance. 

Schwartz added, “Milliman’s study highlights the ways that Medicare Advantage is personalizing care delivery through the growth of Special Supplemental Benefits for the Chronically Ill (SSBCI). From pest control, to grocery delivery, to even service dog support, these findings demonstrate the way that Medicare Advantage tailors health coverage to the individual, providing added value for seniors who need it most.”

Read the full issue brief from Milliman HERE.


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