Expanding Access to Supplemental Benefits in Medicare Advantage
Established in 1996, the Medicare Advantage (MA) program requires approved plans to offer all Part A and Part B benefits, and allows some flexibility to offer supplemental benefits as well. Whether an MA plan offers supplemental benefits hinges on various factors that affect profitability—including perceived and realized impacts on beneficiary health and service use, the level of premiums required to support supplemental benefits, impacts on enrollment, and market competition. Recent regulatory guidance gives MA plans more opportunities to test the offer and delivery of new supplemental benefits and validate effects. We discuss these regulatory changes, the prevalence and growth of MA supplemental benefits, and factors that might influence wider adoption of these benefits.