Can I Get Extra Benefits with Medicare Advantage?
Summary: Medicare Advantages sometimes provide extra benefits including prescription drug coverage, dental care, routine vision, and routine hearing, among other extra benefits.
Want prescription drug coverage? Fitness benefits? A ride to the doctor office? Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) may offer all that and more as extra benefits.
Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private insurance companies approved by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Medicare Advantage plans offer all the coverage that Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) offers and also may offer many extra benefits as well.
How Can Medicare Advantage plans afford to offer so many extra benefits?
The extra benefits available from most Medicare Advantage plans have contributed to their growing popularity among people with Medicare.
Medicare Advantage plans typically have networks of hospitals, doctors, and other health suppliers that as an enrollee you must use to receive the full benefits of the Medicare Advantage plan. Often the trade-off for Medicare Advantage plans’ more restrictive use of provider networks are supplemental (extra) benefits not covered by Original Medicare.
Many Medicare Advantage plans offer the convenience of “one-stop shopping” by providing coverage for hospital care, doctor visits, outpatient services, diagnostic tests as well as extra benefits like:
- prescription drugs
- dental care
- routine vision
- routine hearing services.
If you choose to receive your Medicare benefits through the government-administered Medicare program, you will have to enroll in a separate insurance policies to receive Medicare prescription drug, dental, vision, and hearing coverage.
You may also want a Medicare Supplement policy in addition, to get benefits comparable to many Medicare Advantage plans.
You may find some Medicare Advantage plans provide other supplemental benefits for such services as:
- fitness center memberships
- 24/7 telehealth nurse-advice services
- nutrition counseling, audio/online health libraries
- telehealth physician consultation.
Be on the look-out for Medicare Advantage plans to offer new extra benefits
Starting with the 2019 benefit year, CMS granted Medicare Advantage plans more flexibility to provide new types of supplemental benefits.
Typically, these services diagnose, prevent, or improve health conditions, or reduce emergency department visits. So, for example, you may find Medicare Advantage plans that offer one or more of the following types of new supplemental benefits:
- Transportation to medical appointments
- Over-the-counter (OTC) supplies and medications
- Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT)
- Adult day-care services
- In-home support and personal care services
- Social worker teleservices
- Caregiver support services
- Home modifications in the bathroom (e.g., grips to accommodate mobility issues) and similar supportive devices
- Expanded telehealth services
Starting in 2020, Medicare Advantage plans are permitted to expand supplemental benefits to address the needs of eligible chronically ill enrollees. Medicare Advantage plans’ supplemental benefits may include such services as:
- Transportation for non-medical needs
- Indoor air quality monitors
- Meal deliveries
- Structural modifications to the home such as ramps or widened doorways to accommodate wheelchairs
- Social services
- Home safety evaluations/maintenance services
Compare Medicare Advantage plans
It’s a good idea to compare Medicare Advantage plans each year to determine which plan meets your needs.
Medicare Advantage plans have considerable flexibility in designing their cost-sharing arrangements and supplemental benefits. Each year Medicare Advantage insurers decide which, if any, supplemental benefits they will offer—subject to Medicare’s approval. These extra benefits are likely to vary among Medicare Advantage plans. Even within the same Medicare Advantage plan, the availability of certain supplemental benefits may vary by service area.
You can compare Medicare Advantage plans’ cost and coverage—including supplemental benefits—by entering your ZIP code and clicking the Browse Plans button on this page. Then click on the Medicare Advantage plan names that interest you.