Medicare Advantage Benefit Trends for 2022: A First Glimpse

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Each year, the health plans that participate in Medicare Advantage (MA) program compete vigorously for new members. This vigorous competition has fueled the program’s 10% annual growth rate in recent years. MA plans can distinguish themselves in the competitive MA market by offering low-cost sharing (e.g., no-cost primary care appointments, no-cost generic drugs) or innovative supplemental benefits (e.g., meals, transportation, in-home support). The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which oversees Medicare Advantage, issues data files with all of the 2022 benefits of MA plans in two batches. But until all of those files are released and fully digested, the most accessible glimpse of the 2022 benefits and innovations are the press releases and announcements that many plans offer near the start of MA marketing season in October.

Below is a table of 20 MA organizations and their announced benefits for 2022. Plans were included in the table by virtue of their large size (enrollees as of September 2021) and the presence innovative supplemental benefit offerings in the plan’s press release. The table contains information on the plan and the benefits listed in their press releases for 2022. It is logical to assume that the benefits listed in these announcements will be marketed in the advertisements that are so prominent during television programs with large numbers of senior citizen viewers (and other media). A footnote lists other MA organizations that issued press releases on their 2022 plans and benefits.1

The frequently listed benefits for 2022 are a mixture of “table stakes” benefits (long standing benefits that nearly all plans offer in competitive markets) and innovative new benefits that might have marketing “sizzle” for attracting new Medicare enrollees. Rx cost-sharing and medical cost-sharing are the most frequently listed benefits; every plan announcement in the table includes cost-sharing reduction and prescription drug cost-sharing reductions. Dental, hearing and vision benefits are table stakes benefits that are also listed in the majority of announcements. Healthy meals and flex cards garnered increased attention in the 2022 plan announcements. This is understandable as flex benefits provide Medicare Advantage members with access to a broad set of items and services for the cost of one benefit to the plan. Finally, this year’s announcements saw increased mentions of healthy meals being provided to members; this is likely in response to the concerns of many seniors about grocery shopping in public areas during the continued COVID-19 public health emergency.

MA Organization Listed Benefits Press Release Notes
Aetna (CVS Health) Medical cost-sharing, Rx cost-sharing, Flex Card (medical treatment), Therapeutic massage, Telehealth, OTC Healthy Food Credit, Social Isolation, Flex Card (utilities), Fall Prevention, Insulin, Dental, Rewards Program, Fitness (silver sneakers) Press Release  
Alignment Healthcare Hispanic American Community Plan including Spanish-speaking provider network, Spanish-speaking service agent, Medical cost-sharing, Flex Card, Health Meals/ Grocery Allowance, Transportation, Virtual Fitness Press Release  
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Flex Card (Dental, Hearing, Vision), OTC Health Food Credit, In-Home Safety Devices, Fitness, Home-delivered meals, Transportation Press Release  
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota OTC (eyewear allowance), Worldwide Emergency Coverage, Diabetes management, Acupuncture, Meals, Hearing, Preventive Dental, Comprehensive Dental Press Release Aware Integrated Inc. is the 15th largest health plan based on enrollment. Aware Integrated Inc. includes BCBS of Minnesota and their subsidiaries
Blue Shield of California Medical cost-sharing, Food and Produce, Health Meal Delivery, Transportation, Preventive Dental Press Release  
CarePlus Health Plans, Inc. Digital Wellness, Rewards program Press Release  
Cigna Social Isolation, Diabetes Management, Rewards Program, Rx cost-sharing Press Release Geographic footprint was also discussed.
Health Care Service Corporation Medical cost-sharing, OTC, Travel Programs, Dental, Vision, Hearing Press Release Details on the supplemental benefits are limited. However, HCSC announced it will be offering plans in more counties than at any point in the company’s history.
Healthfirst, Inc. OTC Flex Card (healthy foods, for Internet service, exercise equipment, activity trackers), Dental, Hearing, and Vision Press Release  
Highmark Inc. Comprehensive Dental, Diabetes management, Transportation, Hearing, Vision, Fitness Delaware West Virginia Allegheny New York Harrisburg Northeast New York Highmark released their press releases for each geographic area. The listed benefits are those that were in a majority of the press releases.
Humana COVID-19 (cost-sharing and telehealth, home-delivered meals), OTC Healthy Food Credit, Flex Card (dental, vision, hearing), Rx cost-sharing, Fitness, and Home-delivered meals Press Release  
Independence Blue Cross Telemedicine Behavioral Health Visits, Dental, Hearing, Vision, Transportation Groceries, Meals, Medical cost-sharing, OTC, Insulin Savings Program Press Release  
Kaiser Permanente N/A N/A  
Ochsner Health Network Medical cost-sharing, Prescription Drug coverage, Fitness, Hearing, Vision, Press Release  
Priority Health Medicare Gym membership, Dental, Vision and Hearing coverage, Medication reviews Press Release  
SCAN Health Plan Part B Buyback, Medical cost-sharing, Dental, Rx cost-sharing, In-Home Technology Support, Fitness, Diabetes management Press Release  
Simply Healthcare Flex Card (Dental, Vision, Hearing), OTC+ (Groceries, Utilities, Housing, Transportation), In-Home Support, Health Meals, OTC, Rewards, In-Home Therapeutic Foot Care Press Release  
UnitedHealthcare Rx cost-sharing, Medical cost-sharing, Dental, Hearing, Vision, OTC Healthy Food Credit, HouseCalls, Fitness Press Release  
UPMC Health System Dental, Wellness Program, OTC (Healthcare products) Press Release  
Wellcare (Centene) COVID-19, Joe Montana, Rx cost-sharing Press Release The press release primarily discusses geographic footprint and growth.

FOOTNOTES

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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