Open Enrollment Rubber Stamp On A Medicare Card

UnitedHealthcare and Humana are touting expanded in-home benefits to Medicare Advantage (MA) plan members for 2023, less than two weeks before the start of Medicare’s open enrollment period. The two companies announced their new offerings over the weekend.

Next year, UnitedHealthcare will offer new home support services on select Dual Eligible Special Needs Plans (D-SNPs). Members can use a $150-$225 quarterly credit toward support services including companion care, light cleaning, home modifications, yard maintenance and pest control.

All MA members will also have access to annual in-home health and wellness checkups at no cost. And a new flex benefit on select plans can be used to extend existing dental, vision and hearing benefits after using these benefits. In 2023, the company will offer its “richest enhanced comprehensive dental benefit ever,” covering all non-cosmetic dental care including dentures and implants, and no out-of-pocket costs up to the annual coverage limit on most plans.

“With financial pressures especially impacting older adults living on fixed incomes, we are committed to improving the benefits we offer and driving industry-leading innovations that make them easier to use for the people we serve,” Tim Noel, CEO of UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement, said in a statement.

Humana is offering a similar expansion of services. It will allow members enrolled in D-SNPs and those with chronic medical conditions to spend up to $3,000 annually on supplemental benefits they need most, such as home supplies, nonmedical transport and other services. Previously, those benefits were more limited in scope. 

Humana is also expanding support for its two hospital-at-home models. Both the provider-referred model and the facility-referred model include a $0 cost share on some plans. It also expanded its CenterWell home health and primary care models.

The changes are the result of beneficiary feedback, according to George Renaudin, Medicare president for Humana.

“We conducted extensive research to ensure our changes align with consumer wants and needs,” Renuadin said in a statement. “This research resulted in investments focused on what consumers want, like dental coverage, which is consistently a #1 priority in supplemental benefits for our members.” 

UnitedHealthcare and Humana are the giants of the MA market with 28% and 18% market share, respectively, in 2022, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Their 2023 offerings could portend what other companies, such as Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna and Cigna are likely to roll out as well for next year. In a recent McKnight’s Home Care Daily Pulse Newsmakers podcast, healthAlign CEO Andy Friedell predicted that MA plans would respond to consumer demands for more flexibility in the use of supplemental benefits.

“Initially they were thinking of building these benefits side by side,” Friedell explained in the podcast. “Now, they are saying I’m going to give the member an amount of value and let the member choose where they need it.”

Late last week, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services updated Medicare enrollment through the end of June with MA plans accounting for 46% of the nearly 64.7 million Americans enrolled in Medicare. 

MA plans have been growing in popularity with aging baby boomers because they save enrollees on average $2,000 annually on premiums and out-of-pocket costs compared to traditional Medigap plans and many offer a variety of nonmedical supplemental benefits. However, the plans have come under fire by government watchdogs who claim they often delay or deny services covered under Medicare.

Open enrollment for Medicare begins Oct. 15 and runs through Dec. 7.