Medicare Advantage Supplemental Benefit Flexibilities: Adoption of and Access to Newly Expanded Supplemental Benefits in 2020

Narda Ipakchi
Jonathan Blum
Eric Hammelman
May 2020

More than one-third of Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan, which include standard MA plans as well as Special Needs Plans (SNPs) that provide tailored benefits to designated populations. Expanded supplemental benefits are designed to address enrollees’ functional and health-related social needs, which may lead to improved health outcomes and lower costs for adults with complex needs. This issue brief examines recent flexibilities related to MA expanded supplemental benefit offerings and shares information on plan adoption for 2020. These flexibilities are: (1) expansion of primarily health-related benefits; (2) benefits offered non-uniformly; (3) Value-Based Insurance Design (VBID); and (4) Special Supplemental Benefits for the Chronically Ill (SSBCI).

In 2020, approximately 19 percent of all MA enrollees are enrolled in a plan that offers at least one expanded supplemental benefit – approximately 10 percent for primarily health-related benefits, five percent for benefits offered non-uniformly, five percent in VBID programs, and six percent for SSBCI. The brief identifies the top MA organizations providing each type of benefits, the enrollment by geographic area, the number of plans adopting specific items and services, and the chronic conditions targeted. These findings show that a relatively small percentage of MA enrollees as of 2020, in a limited geographic area, are enrolled in plans offering expanded supplemental benefits. The benefits and services offered are diverse, which suggest that plans are testing different approaches to explore potential outcomes.

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