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More Medicare Advantage health plans are choosing to offer in-home service benefits according to the American Association for Medicare Supplement Insurance (AAMSI). Understanding the trend can help consumers and insurance agents better plan.
“The television ads scream that seniors on Medicare may be entitled to all kinds of great benefits, many of them available completely free,” declares Jesse Slome, director of the Medicare advocacy organization. Slome also heads the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance. “There is clearly a shift taking place that impacts both long-term care and Medicare insurance.”
One of the benefits gaining attention and favor is in-home support services. “These are designed to help individuals with disabilities and medical conditions,” Slome explained to a group of insurance professionals focused on counseling seniors. “In the past telling a senior that Medicare didn’t cover long-term care needs was a relatively true statement,” Slome admits. “No longer a universal given, it might be better to explain the limits of any coverage if available.”
According to the latest data 719 Medicare Advantage (MA) plans are offering in-home support services in 2022. “That’s an increase from 429 plans in 2021 and 223 plans in 2020,” Slome reports. “While that’s less that 20 percent of the 3,800 available MA plans, it is definitely a trend to understand and acknowledge. None of the other non-medical supplemental benefits that can be offered within a MA plan have shown such substantial growth.”
According to AAMSI more than 26 million Americans are currently enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans. “The popularity of these plans continues to grow but still cover less than half of Americans with Medicare,” Slome notes. “The total number of people enrolled in the Medicare program is projected to increase from about 62 million in 2020 to about 78 million in 2030. All the new and typically free added benefits are helping fuel the surge in MA plan growth.”
“Going forward, it might be better to explain the limits of any in-home coverage if available,” Slome advised. “Free is great but it isn’t unlimited free and generally will fall way short of what someone is likely to want and need.”
Of the 429 MA plans offering in-home service benefits in 2021, the vast majority limited services to a maximum number of hours per year. “Some 39 percent limited services to between 24 and 60 hours a year,” Slome shared. “Another 11 percent limited covered services to 24 hours annually or less. That’s basically 3 hours of care for one week.”
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The American Association for Medicare Supplement Insurance and the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance advocate for the importance of educated planning and supports insurance professionals who market Medicare and long-term care insurance solutions. For more information, visit the organization’s websites at www.medicaresupp.org or www.aaltci.org.