Medicare Advantage Plans Expand.

Author:Nicholson, Haley

America's seniors will be able to choose from an expanded list of medical and preventive health services beginning in 2020. The services include transportation to doctor appointments, home delivery of healthy groceries and meals, and in-home upgrades, such as bathtub grab bars, that can help patients with chronic conditions continue living at home.

The services will be available because of recent changes made to the Medicare Advantage program by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Medicare Advantage is an optional, flexible program offered through private insurers for Medicare enrollees who can pay for services not offered in regular Medicare plans.

CMS is redefining which health-related extra benefits can be included in the Medicare Advantage program, with the goal of improving the health and quality of life for Medicare patients. The new services must be classified as primary health services covered by the Advantage plans.

CMS will allow state health insurance assistance programs and insurance departments to develop a longer list of supplemental benefits as long as each one diagnoses, prevents or treats a physical or psychological illness or injury, or reduces a patient's likelihood of being admitted to an emergency room or readmitted to a hospital. Some health experts and providers welcome the added benefits as a much-needed change in the American health care system.

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