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IBX Insights

Save Money with Medicare’s New Benefits for Beneficiaries

By October 3, 2018December 31st, 2020Benefits Health Insurance Medicare

You probably already know that Medicare Advantage plans cover lots of benefits that aren’t a part of Original Medicare, but did you know that starting January 1, 2019, the savings are about to increase?

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have expanded health plans’ ability to offer health-related benefits as part of their Medicare Advantage plan benefits, and this could translate into big savings for beneficiaries.

What Are Health-Related Benefits?

Health-related benefits include items and services that increase health and improve quality of life, but aren’t directly related to the treatment of illness or injury. If they “compensate for physical impairments, diminish the impact of injuries or health conditions, and/or reduce avoidable emergency room” visits, they can be covered by Medicare Advantage plans.

During this year’s annual enrollment period, you’ll have the chance to choose a plan that offers more benefits for healthy living and good quality of life. Read on for some examples of the benefits that could save you money!

Over-the-Counter Items

CMS has permitted Medicare Advantage plans to offer an allowance on over-the-counter items, and that’s good news for beneficiaries. What’s in your medicine cabinet? When’s the last time you refreshed your first aid and wellness supplies? An over-the-counter benefit can be used to stock your cabinet with aspirin, bandages, cold and allergy medicines, vitamins, and much more. Use it to replace expired products, buy the supplements your doctor recommends for daily use, or buy items that ease the symptoms of any number of routine aches and pains.

Enhanced Disease Management

CMS has approved benefits that fall under “Enhanced Disease Management” to cover specialized education and services related to the management of a medical condition. Plans have the discretion to design benefits and programs around specific health concerns, meaning the care you get will be more customized to your specific needs. You may be eligible for benefits like post-discharge medication management, appointment scheduling, transportation coordination, post-discharge home nursing visits, nutrition benefits, and much more.

Home-Based Palliative Care

CMS has approved a palliative care benefit for Medicare Advantage plans. You may associate palliative care with end-of-life care, but palliative care can be administered at any stage. The purpose of palliative care is to provide physical and mental comfort. Beginning in 2019, CMS has expanded palliative care from the hospital and into your home. Palliative care can provide relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness. Unlike hospice care, which can only begin after curative treatment has ended, palliative care is your partner in managing a health issue, and now you can have the support of home-based palliative care treatment covered by your Medicare Advantage plan.

All of the benefits available to you help you lead a healthier life, and we want to be here if you need help. If you still have questions, call us toll free at 1-877-393-6733! Experienced, licensed sales agents are available to talk you through your options seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Website last updated: 9/27/2018
Y0041_HM_19_68544 Accepted 9/21/2018

Kortney Cruz

As Senior Vice President of Government Markets at Independence Blue Cross, Kortney provides overall leadership to Independence’s Medicare businesses, including operations, sales and marketing, risk analytics, and performance management, as well as oversight of the company’s Medicare STAR ratings initiatives and marketing Keystone HMO CHIP products and services to the communities we serve, and helping those communities enroll into the Medicare and CHIP coverage they need. She is directly responsible for acquisition and member retention marketing, product development, sales operations, and sales management at Independence in the Medicare and Keystone HMO CHIP area. Her goal is to deliver innovative and value-driven communications, and she is passionate about enriching the connection between Independence Blue Cross and our membership.