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Health Insurance Providers And The Changing Face Of Aging

by AHIP

May 29, 2018

U.S. Air Force veteran William Foster and his wife Raynell are in their 80s and have a message for seniors and for people approaching age 65: “You can feel confident in Medicare Advantage.”

As the baby boomer generation becomes eligible for Medicare—78.2 million of them will turn 65 by 2029—health plans are balancing coverage, care, and cost to help members stay healthy and productive. Millions of seniors have come to rely on Medicare Advantage. Fans praise the variety and the ability to manage their costs while getting the care they need. The Fosters make it plain: “Our health would be worse if we had to put off certain doctors’ appointments or prescription refills simply because of the cost.”

For many, the age of 65 is the new 45. Advances in care and care management enable people to remain healthy and active longer. Long-term care coverage and Medicare Advantage programs are some of the ways health insurance providers help people to manage their health as they age.

The scoop:

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) updated its policies for 2019 to allow Medicare Advantage plans to include additional services to help patients be healthier and live better. This clears the way for insurance providers to help people manage their overall health—not just their medical care—by providing new benefits such as grocery delivery or rides to medical appointments.

Here are some ways that plans reach beyond reactive medical treatment to help prevent illness and reduce the need for emergency care, protecting patients, plans, and taxpayers:

  • Telehealth programs let providers meet people where they live, and anticipate patients’ needs before chronic conditions become acute.
  • Grocery delivery services can help ensure patients have access to nutritious foods.
  • Rides to medical appointments can help patients get the care they need to stay out of the hospital.
  • Free gym memberships and programs that subsidize the cost of wearable fitness trackers help more people to stay active.

Rewards in action:

  • John Hancock offers Vitality life insurance members the opportunity to earn rewards and discounts, including a heavily discounted Apple Watch, through exercise and eating right.
  • AgeWell New York offers Medicare Advantage plan members the opportunity to earn gift cards for completing certain health care events, such as getting an annual physical, mammogram, flu vaccine, and more.

Why drug pricing matters:

Ninety-two percent of people over age 65 have at least one chronic condition, like heart disease, cancer, or diabetes. The good news is that prescription drugs make it easier for many seniors to manage these health conditions. However, rapidly rising drug prices can make it harder for patients to get the medicine they need to stay healthy.

So, stay tuned. As health insurance providers roll out their plans and enhancements for 2019, we’re sure to see some innovative benefits for this new generation of Medicare-eligible people.