Next year may dawn the year of true comprehensive whole health care (CWHC).  Lawmakers are meeting in conjunction with CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) to look at redefining the benefits that fall under the “primarily health-related” category.  This may open the door to allowing things like air conditioners for those afflicted with asthma, transportation to medical appointments, delivery of home meals for the disabled and more to be covered by Medicare Advantage plans.  These would be extra added benefits included in the plans, working alongside the traditional coverages. The goal with these proposed changes is to allow people to live healthier, longer, more independent lives.

The Medicare Advantage plans have become very popular among the Medicare recipient generation.  They are a chosen option available to Medicare recipients.  At age 65 a person can choose to forgo the traditional Medicare plans to enroll in a privately run Medicare Advantage plan.  These plans are a privatized alternative to the regular government run Medicare coverage.  Advantage plans have been breaking the mold by adding benefits including hearing aids, dental care, eye glasses and even gym memberships.  These private companies are incentivized to be make the whole overall health of its members a priority.  CMS gives these insurance providers the ability to expand the coverages in order to reduce emergency and inpatient medical care.

Ceci Connolly, chief executive officer of the Alliance of Community Health Plans, said“CMS is catching up with the rest of the world in terms of its understanding of how we keep people healthy and well and living longer and independently, and those are all positive steps.”  This new outlook on healthcare is revolutionizing the entire industry.  In the beginning, there may be widespread differences in how these plans implement and interpret this new standard of care, but it is encouraging to see the ultimate quality of life and good of the patient being at the center of the medical decision making.  The theory is that the ability to treat the whole patient, and not just an acute incident, will help control costs and improve quality of life in the long run.

There have been no final decisions made yet for these 2019 Medicare Advantage packages.  All plans will need to be approved by CMS and details will be released to the public in the fall, before open enrollment.  It is, however, encouraging to see lawmakers moving in the right direction.

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