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Number of Medicare Advantage Plans Offering Supplemental Benefits Increases 64% in 2021

The number of Medicare Advantage plans offering supplemental benefits in 2021 will increase by 64% from 2020. Learn more about these extra benefits and the plans offering them.

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The number of Medicare Advantage plans that offer expanded supplemental benefits will increase by 64% in 2021, according to a recent study.

The study, released by the Medicare advocacy group Better Medicare Alliance (BMA), focused on the five supplemental benefits that were approved for Medicare coverage in 2018 and 2019:

  • Adult day care
  • Home-based palliative care
  • In-home support
  • Caregiver support
  • Therapeutic massage 

In all, 575 plans nationwide will offer at least one of these benefits in 2021, which is up from the 351 plans that offered at least one benefit in 2020. 

More Medicare Advantage plans to offer at-home care

In-home support services are the fastest growing supplemental benefits to be newly offered by Medicare Advantage plans, with 296 plans offering this coverage in 2021 compared to just 148 plans in 2020. Home-based palliative care also saw a large increase, going from 58 plans in 2020 to 128 plans in 2021.

And the number of plans offering more than one of these benefits increased by 82%, from 96 plans in 2020 to 175 in 2021. 

Only one benefit, therapeutic massage, saw a decrease in plan participation in 2021. 

The chart below shows the number of plans offering each of these benefits in 2019, 2020 and 2021. 

Number of Medicare Advantage Plans Offering Supplemental Benefits
Benefit 2019 Plans 2020 Plans 2021 Plan
Adult day care

0

63

88

Home-based palliative care

29

58

128

In-home support services

51

148

296

Caregiver support

N/A

77

87

Therapeutic massage

22

180

152

Medicare Advantage plan benefits have expanded since 2018

Previously, Medicare Advantage plans were more limited in the selection of extra benefits – benefits offered by the plan that aren’t offered by Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) – that could be included.

Medicare Advantage plans were bound by a rule that only allowed for coverage of care that was “primarily health-related” and did not allow benefits for which the primary purpose was daily maintenance. 

But a 2018 court ruling expanded the definition of “primarily health-related” to include additional benefits that were supplemental in nature but still considered health care benefits. That ruling opened the door for things like adult day care to enter the benefit lineup of Medicare Advantage plans. 

Many Medicare Advantage plans may offer additional benefits

Medicare Advantage plans are sold by private insurers. They are required by law to include all of the same basic coverage as Original Medicare, and many plans may offer additional benefits that Original Medicare doesn’t cover. 

Common extra benefits that may be covered by some Medicare Advantage plans include prescription drug coverage and routine dental, vision and hearing benefits. 

A licensed insurance agent can help you compare Medicare Advantage plans available where you live, including their costs, benefits, coverage and more.

Compare Medicare Advantage plan benefits in your area.

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