Medicare Advantage plans grow more comfortable with supplemental benefits in 2020: study

Medicare Advantage
A new analysis found that Medicare Advantage plan issuers are growing more comfortable with extended supplemental benefits in 2020.

The number of Medicare Advantage (MA) plans offering an expanded supplemental benefit in 2020 increased to 364 from 102 in 2019 as plans become more comfortable with the added flexibility, a new study found.

The study, released Monday from consulting firm Milliman and commissioned by the Better Medicare Alliance, found that insurers are becoming more comfortable offering supplemental benefits such as adult day care or massages ahead of the 2020 plan year.

RELATED: KFF: MA plans per beneficiary to reach highest level in 2020 in a decade

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For the 2019 plan year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) gave insurers more flexibility to offer supplemental benefits to MA plans. The agency continued to offer benefit flexibility for the 2020 plan year, which is in the middle of open enrollment.

“It is important for Medicare beneficiaries who choose to enroll in Medicare Advantage plans to consider supplemental benefits in the context of all of their healthcare needs as well as any cost sharing and member premium,” the analysis said.

Milliman looked at the number of plans offering new supplemental benefits in 2020 compared to 2019.

In 2019, there were 102 plans that offered a series of expanded supplemental benefits, which increased to 364 for 2020.

RELATED: Why supplemental benefits in MA mark a 'turning point' for Medicare policy

The biggest increase was in the plans offering therapeutic massage, with 22 plans offering the benefit in 2019 and 192 in 2020. Plans offering in-home support services also increased from 51 plans this year to 148 in 2020.

The analysis is based on bids for 2020 and benefits offered by plans in 2019.

CMS announced in September that premiums for 2020 MA plans are expected to decline by 14% compared to this year, and premiums will be the lowest since 2007.

The agency expects 24.4 million Medicare beneficiaries out of approximately 60 million will sign up for MA in 2020.

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