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An Early Look at 2021 Medicare Advantage Benefits
Now that marketing for Plan Year 2021 is underway, this is an excellent time to check on 2021 MA supplemental benefits and compare them to supplemental benefits in 2018, 2019 and 2020.
As shown in Table 1 below, the most popular supplemental benefits continue to be benefits with a long history in the MA program — including optical, audio and dental benefits, and relatively low-cost benefits that plug holes in original Medicare’s idiosyncratic benefit structure.
While readers familiar with MA benefits will not be surprised by the benefits on this list, they might be surprised by how many plans continue not to offer them.
Figure 1 below shows that, across the board, the number of plans that offer the most popular supplemental benefits has increased every year since 2018.
Figure 2 below analyzes the annual change in the percentage of MA plans offering the top eight supplemental benefits compared to total plans offered.
We saw a decrease in outpatient blood services, a benefit that is difficult to market, as plans increase more marketable supplemental benefits. All other popular benefits are increasing in frequency.
The percentage of total plans offering hearing aids, for example, as a supplemental benefit was the largest increase.
Over the last two years, we have consulted a number of MA organizations, associations and vendors about the new supplemental benefit flexibilities.
In these touch points, certain benefits are consistently discussed for their potential to provide a positive return on investment (because the costs avoided as a result of the benefit exceed the cost of the benefit) or marketing sizzle.
Figure 3 below shows the rising popularity of these most discussed benefits.
Readers will note that some of the benefits (Comprehensive Dental and Over-the-Counter Drugs, in particular) are now common MA plan offerings. Transportation and meal benefits are also gaining in popularity.
Other much-talked-about benefits, such as in-home support, remain uncommon but are growing.
Still, other benefits have been the subject of much discussion for their potential to treat chronic conditions in new ways.
These range from covering new provider types — such as acupuncturists, therapeutic massage and chiropractors (beyond existing Medicare-covered chiropractic services) — to creative benefits that increase member safety, such as bathroom/home safety devices.
Figure 4 below demonstrates a considerable rise in the number of MA plans covering new provider types, particularly with regard to acupuncture and chiropractic services.
Agent Compliance Guide - Checklist
We all need help remembering tasks that need to be completed throughout the week.
Especially when it comes to the amount of documentation and compliance issues an insurance agent needs to deal with.
So we’ve put together a detailed 10 page checklist with interactive check boxes to help remind you of all the things that are required to remain compliant before, during, and after a sale.
Use the PDF digitally or print it out as a reminder of all the things you need to be aware of.
The check list includes reminders for things such as :
- Completing a Scope of Appointment
- Meeting with a client
- Making a compliant presentation
- Communicating with a client after the sale
- Avoiding and dealing with canceled applications
- Avoiding and dealing with Rapid Disenrollment’s
- Dealing with complaints
- And much, much more..
Below you can see an example of the 10 page checklist.
Photo by Gerd Altmann from Pexels
5 Tips To Make Your AEP Successful
About 23 million of the 62 million people eligible for Medicare have Medicare Advantage coverage, and about 14 million have Medigap coverage.
Some of the other Medicare enrollees have other types of Medicare plans. Companies in the Medicare market are so enthusiastic that, last spring, as the first C-19 wave was peaking, distributors put out press releases announcing they were hiring a total of thousands of call center agents.
Here are five things to know about the Medicare plan market heading toward Thursday:
► The market looks competitive: UnitedHealthcare has put out rate sheets showing that, in states like Alabama and Maine, its typical standard rates will be going up about 6% to 7% in 2021.
CMS has spreadsheets showing what’s happening to Medicare Advantage and Part D prices. There, the average monthly premium is on track to decrease 11% in 2021, to $21;
► 31% of people aging into Medicare plan to get enrollment help from live humans: GoHealth, a broker, came up with that statistic in an online survey of 2,106 people 62 and older and not enrolled in Medicare; or 65 and older and enrolled in Medicare;
► Agents and marketers in the field are feeling the effects of the increased level of competition: Jesse Slome of the American Association for Medicare Supplement Insurance (AAMSI) said the “pace of change has been greatly accelerated compared to a year ago.
There is accelerated consolidation and acquisition of companies that will give larger national distributors significant competitive advantages.”;
► COVID-19 itself might not have that much effect on experienced retail agents: Lindsay Engle, a Medicare market tracker who works for
MedicareFAQ.com, said the image of local agents meeting with clients at a kitchen table is off the mark. “Social distancing won’t have much of an impact, since most sell over the phone.”;
► At least some in the private Medicare plan sector are excited about the idea of the possibility of a change in Medicare age eligibility: Looking ahead, the growth potential for the industry is enormous if the eligibility age is dropped to 60.
If the federal government cuts the regular Medicare eligibility to age 60, “That will result in an immediate growth of the market by 20.5 million,” said Jesse Slome of the AAMSI.
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Star Ratings Released for Med Adv, Part D
The CMS released Star Ratings for Medicare Advantage and Part D plans Thursday, and the quality ratings of M/A and prescription drug plans remain strong.
Most Medicare beneficiaries – about 77% – who enroll in M/A plans with drug coverage will be in plans with 4-or-more stars in 2021, compared to 69% of beneficiaries enrolled in such plans in 2017.
The 21 health plans earning 5 stars include:
- KelseyCare Advantage
- Kaiser Permanente
- CarePlus by Humana
- Tufts Health Plan
- Health Partners
- Capital District Physicians' Health Plan
- Quartz Medicare Advantage of Wisconsin
- Health Sun - Anthem
- BCBS - Health Now New York and Martins Point
- and more
Almost half – about 49% – of M/A plans offering prescription drug coverage will have an overall rating of four stars or higher, up from about 45% in 2017.
The average Star Rating for all M/A plans with prescription drug coverage improved to 4.06 out of 5 stars in 2021, up from 4.02 in 2017.
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