In 2019, Medicare Advantage plans in about 20 states will be able to cover a range of home services that generally aren’t considered medical care and haven’t been covered in the past. It’s part of an experiment to see if providing these nontraditional services will improve health and medical outcomes for beneficiaries.
The shift reflects a growing recognition that simple help at home can have a meaningful impact on patients’ well-being — and reduce some costs for taxpayers. A couple of hundred dollars to install grab bars in the shower can prevent a fall leading to a broken hip, a life-changing injury.
The newly covered services are similar to what people might need if they required long-term care, said Howard Gleckman, a senior researcher at the nonpartisan Urban Institute think tank. “It begins to break down the wall between long-term care and Medicare, which with very few exceptions, has never paid for long-term care.”