Older Americans across the country who are approaching or eligible for Medicare are vastly different than generations past. They’re more diverse, health-conscious, and tech-savvy. They seek affordability, personalization, and value when it comes to their health care. Because of recent events surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, many beneficiaries are expecting care designed to meet the specific needs of the current population during this post-pandemic time. Below, we’re highlighting 4 Medicare trends that propel better solutions for Americans who are 65 years or older.
The older population is projected to be more racially and ethnically diverse as society ages. According to AARP, from 2015 to 2060, the number of senior black adults in the United States will almost triple and the number of senior Hispanic adults will more than quintuple while the number of whites will less than double.
Medicare Advantage plans serve an even more diverse population. In 2020, there were 25 million members, and over half were women. 52% of all Hispanic seniors, 49% of African American seniors, and 35% of Asian American seniors chose Medicare Advantage over the original Medicare plan. This Medicare trend plays an important role in providing health security to every senior, regardless of ethnicity.
Telehealth Care Options
One of the biggest trends seen over the last year is the emergence of telehealth. Telehealth exploded in 2020, making healthcare accessible during the COVID-19 pandemic. This nontraditional alternative allowed 25% of Americans over 50 to see a health care provider compared to only 4% of those over 50 before the pandemic. Senior Americans over 65 used telehealth for over half of their primary care visits in 2020. As the country continues to reopen and in-person office visits resume, telehealth is still available, often with a $0 copay for Medicare Advantage members.
Supplemental Benefits and Specialized Support
Interest in offering supplemental benefits to beneficiaries (like a stipend for tools to prevent falls, such as grab bars) has blossomed. Many Medicare Advantage plan members have seen this benefit and other initiatives already, and insurers are looking to expand on it to include even more plans in the future. Other services, like Papa, acknowledge that many Medicare members seek companionship or assistance with transportation, chores, technology services, and more. This service is available with select plans to all members with no health assessments or chronic conditions required to qualify.
Higher Quality of Care
Medicare Advantage plans are rated from 1 to 5 stars, with 5 stars considered an “excellent” rating. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has many categories for quality and performance and the Medicare Advantage Star Rating system incentivizes Medicare Advantage plans to value quality over quantity. Over 75% of MA members were in a Medicare Advantage plan with 4 stars or more, and nearly all members (99%) were happy with their plan. Individuals in Medicare Advantage plans experienced lower hospitalization rates than those enrolled in Medicare because of the higher quality of care. MA members also have lower out-of-pocket costs, spending about 40% less than those in traditional Medicare.
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