19 million Medicare beneficiaries, or about one in three people with Medicare nationwide, are enrolled in Medicare Advantage (MA). While private Medicare Advantage plans must cover all benefits that traditional fee-for-service Medicare covers, MA plans may also offer additional benefits known as “supplemental benefits”. Supplemental benefits are a key difference between MA and traditional Medicare, and their availability may be one reason why some beneficiaries opt for MA.
This Insight on the Issues is the first of two reports that examine MA’s supplemental benefits. Starting in 2019, there will be significant changes to MA supplemental benefits, as a result of regulatory changes by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and new rules enacted by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018. This paper sets the stage to discuss the impact of those impending changes by explaining how supplemental benefits have worked in recent years, prior to 2019.