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Blue Cross, Blue Shield of La. announces new benefits to Medicare

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Posted at 10:47 AM, Oct 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-16 11:47:43-04

BATON ROUGE, La. - Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana announced on Wednesday the addition of new supplemental benefits to their 2020 Medicare Advantage products including telehealth, over-the-counter supplies and wellness incentives.

Blue Cross offers the Medicare Advantage plans Blue Advantage (HMO) and Blue Advantage (PPO) to individuals across the state, plus Group Medicare Advantage plans for employers. These new supplemental benefits will become available to Blue Advantage members January 1, 2020.

Driving the Adoption of Telehealth

This year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) finalized policies that increase the plan choices and benefits, including allowing Medicare Advantage plans to offer telehealth. In the Final Rule [cms.gov] published April 5, 2019, CMS Administrator Seema Verma said, "Today's policies represent a historic step in bringing innovative technology to Medicare beneficiaries. With these new telehealth benefits, Medicare Advantage enrollees will be able to access the latest technology … [and] can receive more benefits, at lower costs and better quality."

More than half of seniors polled by American Well [healthcareitnews.com] say they will use virtual health visits and look forward to quicker service along with cost savings. The survey also revealed that 45 percent of seniors are familiar with video-call technology like FaceTime or Skype.

Currently, the Federal Communications Commission [federalregister.gov] is proposing a three-year Connected Care Pilot program with a $100 million budget that would help drive telehealth options for low-income residents and veterans.

"We've been offering our BlueCare telehealth benefit to our under 65 members since 2016," said Sheldon Faulk, SVP, COO of Government Business at Blue Cross. "We're so pleased to have the opportunity to extend this innovative technology platform to our Medicare Advantage population, too. And, these members can visit a Primary Care Provider through BlueCare virtually or at a doctor's office at no cost. This is a great step in leveraging the latest in technology to help support improved health outcomes."

Additional Extra Benefits

Along with doctor visits, including the new telehealth benefit, hospital stays, prescription drugs, dental, vision, hearing and fitness, 2020 Blue Advantage members will also receive:

Over-the-Counter Allowance: $200 per year for over-the-counter supplies including pain relievers, dental and denture care, first aid, vitamins, allergy and cold, skin care, eye care and more.

Meal Delivery: Home meal delivery for five days after each in-patient hospital stay.

Wellness Incentives: Up to $50 in gift cards for completing approved wellness activities each year.

"Getting our members access to top-notch healthcare and encouraging them to stay well and thrive is the most important thing we do each and every day," Faulk added.