Medicare Advantage plans may start covering meal delivery in 2020

Beginning this year and continuing into 2020, Medicare Advantage plans (ones from private insurers) have increased flexibility to provide coverage for what the government calls supplemental benefits. These are services otherwise excluded by law from what’s known as Original Medicare coverage.

And Medicare Advantage plans for 2020 can begin covering supplemental benefits that aren’t primarily health-related, specifically for people with chronic illnesses. These benefits address environmental factors that may affect their health, functioning, quality of life and risk levels. So you may be seeing plans offering people with chronic ailments coverage for things like meal delivery, transportation for non-medical needs, home air cleaners, and heart-healthy food.

Now that it’s the heart of Medicare Open Enrollment season, ending Dec. 7, if you or a loved one will be shopping for Medicare coverage for 2020, you’ll want to know about these new supplemental benefits and how to size them up before choosing a plan.

Criteria for a chronic condition for Medicare supplemental benefits

Having a chronic condition, according to Medicare rules, means that you meet these three criteria:

  • You have at least one medically complex chronic condition that is life-threatening or significantly limits your health or function
  • You have a high risk of hospitalization or other negative health outcomes
  • You require intensive health care coordination

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