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Medicare Advantage Program launches NEW 2020 plans with drastically improved benefits in Southern California.

Enjoy a free ride, a warm meal, respite care, transportation, pest control, reduced co-pays and historically low out of pocket costs with new choices.

In 2019, Medicare Advantage plans stepped up their coverage to include the delivery of meals, rides to physician appointments and pharmacies, home safety improvements, and a host of other new benefits. As described in a new report on Medicare Advantage plans, 153 Medicare Advantage plans are now leveraging new Trump administration guidance and experimenting with 842 “flex benefits”.

As a result of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, which includes changes to Medicare programs. CMS is adding flexibility to MA plans that will not only provide patients with more MA options and new benefits, but also take a significant step toward offering higher quality care at lower costs. 

These benefits fall into two broad categories: reducing costs to encourage members to receive preventive care, such as free primary and podiatry care for people with diabetes; and non-medical benefits, such as home-delivered meals following a hospital discharge, home safety interventions, and non-skilled in-home caregiving.

Medicare beneficiaries select Medicare Advantage for a variety of reasons. These include catastrophic cost protection, care management programs, and a range of mainly health-related supplemental benefits such as dental checkups, eyeglasses, hearing aids, over-the-counter drugs, and gym memberships. The trade-off for these extras is limited choice of providers and managed care tools like prior authorization and step therapy. These limitations put off some Medicare beneficiaries, but have not dampened the high overall satisfaction with Medicare Advantage or its continued growth.

Medicare Advantage’s competitive edge over original Medicare will take another step forward in 2020 when plans are expected to gain additional flexibilities in offering non-medical benefits for people with chronic diseases. The next wave of new benefits can include anything that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services deems “have a reasonable expectation of improving or maintaining the health or overall function” of enrollees with chronic diseases.

Expanding Telehealth Services

The telehealth market is experiencing considerable growth, with a recent study projecting the global market will hit $130.5 billion by 2025. So it comes as no surprise that the Bipartisan Budget Act made provisions to include additional telehealth benefits in Medicare Advantage plans starting next year. By expanding telehealth coverage, beneficiaries will be able to receive healthcare services from the convenience of their homes as opposed to traveling to healthcare facilities.

Transportation Benefits

The CMS’ expansion of transportation benefits extends beyond only patients with chronic illnesses. Under these changes, plans can begin offering transportation benefits for more than just critical care services. Transportation to preventative services, such as wellness visits or massage therapy, can now be covered. 

Improved Benefits for Chronic Illnesses

The provisions of the Bipartisan Budget Act also spell good news for MA patients with chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease. Thanks to the updates, these patients will have access to a wider range of supplemental benefits that may not be health related but “have a reasonable expectation of improving or maintaining the health or overall function” of enrollees, according to CMS. These can include meal delivery services, transportation for non-medical needs, or home environment services that improve a patient’s health. For instance, someone with asthma will be able to cover home air cleaners that help lower their risk of asthma attacks and being sent to the hospital. MA plans can also vary supplemental benefits by tailoring them to a patient’s specific needs and medical conditions. 

Beginning October 1st, licensed agents may begin marketing and presenting 2020 Medicare Advantage and Part D plans to beneficiaries. No applications can be accepted prior to October 15th


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