UnitedHealth, Cigna to expand Medicare Advantage footprint, turns telehealth for 2021

Big donors will expand their presence at Medicare Advantage over the next year, focusing on the benefits of telemedicine and reducing cost-sharing, two trends accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Increasing competition is bringing more plans to market with low or no premiums as bullish payers have reported huge gains from deferred care in recent months. Companies will also benefit from the abolition of the health insurance tax from 2021.

Medicare Advantage was a major sales driver for high-paying people, but not for its critics. Significant fraud concerns were raised as some companies confused the system’s risk analysis mechanism.

The MA program covers about a third of Medicare beneficiaries, and analysts predict it will grow to about half by 2030. Around 27 million people are expected to be enrolled in an MA plan by the end of this year. ‘Next year.

Gretchen Jacobson, Medicare vice president for the Commonwealth Fund, said the pandemic’s impact on participation was unclear, but she hopes these predictions are true.

“It is unclear whether this forecast development will change, but for example, there was no negative news on supplier networks during the pandemic,” he said. “But there weren’t any big positive stories about profit growth either.”

MA’s largest plan provider, United Healthcare, has its biggest expansion in five years, launching in nearly 300 other countries.

Cigna will enter five new states next year and expand its presence in the county by 22%, its largest expansion yet.

And Humana is moving to 125 new counties, while Aetna, owned by CVS Health, is preparing plans for 115 more counties. Anthem will be showing its close-ups in Iowa as it expands to 80 other counties.

Humana and United Healthcare are sponsoring a $ 0 co-payment for telemedicine visits, a potentially exciting feature as patients have turned to virtual care at an unprecedented level in the past few months. Cigna offers free long-distance driving services and adds virtual physical therapy to your plans.

Cigna said all of its markets will offer at least one plan at no additional cost, while Aetna said that about 80% of members will have access to a plan without premium. These could be of interest to families affected by the recession caused by the pandemic.

However, the spending limits for AM plans have been raised this year. Jacobson said beneficiaries also take this factor into account when reviewing plans.

Clover Health, a small tech-focused startup, said Thursday that it has partnered with Walmart to offer domain plans in eight Georgia counties as the large retailer expands its role in the healthcare sector.

One plan has a $ 0 premium and both offer primary care visits with no copay. The provider network will include 31 hospitals and more than 8,000 physicians.

Payers cite some benefits directly related to COVID-19, although federal regulations in place during the ongoing public health emergency no longer require cost-sharing for testing and treatment.

United Healthcare’s Healthcare Navigator program helps people with COVID-19 get the medicine, food, and care they need while in quarantine. Humana offers beneficiaries a diagnosis of up to 28 self-fed meals.

Jacobson noted that companies were required to submit information on the plan in June, when less was known about the pandemic and its likely continuation or even worsening, during the winter months.

“They were probably trying to figure out what all of this would mean for their cost structure when everyone was thinking that the pandemic could end shortly,” he said.

The plans continue to provide benefits aimed at improving the social determinants of health, a relatively new design approved by CMS.

UnitedHealth, Humana, and Cigna offer healthy food cards with monthly or yearly allowances to allow members to purchase approved foods. UnitedHealth also offers a fitness program with online training videos and a rewards program for activities like annual physicals, checkups, and flu shots.

Anthem also has “nutritional benefits, health-related transportation, and access to adult child care” in next year’s additional plans.

Insurers also hope to attract more veterans seeking additional coverage from the US Veterans Administration.

Aetna launches Aetna Medicare Eagle MA plans for 2021 in 27 states. They include dental, eye, and hearing protection, as well as nutritional benefits. Currently, the Humana Honor scheme will be available to retirees in 46 states, up from 27 years ago.