The 4 most common newborn Medicare Advantage plan mini LTC benefits offerings are...

1. Caregiver Support Services

Number of plans offering benefit: 429

2. In-Home Support and Personal Care Services

Number of plans offering benefit: 107

3. Social Worker Phone Line

Number of plans offering benefit: 80

4. Adult Day Care

Number of plans offering benefit: 26

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(Related: LTC Benefits Creep Into 2019 Medicare Advantage Plans)

Insurers have not rushed all that many new benefits that resemble long-term care (LTC) benefits into their 2019 Medicare Advantage plans — but they have added some.

Analysts from Avalere Health, a health care consulting firm, have come up with some Medicare Advantage mini LTC benefits offering counts. The analysts put the counts in a new Medicare Advantage supplemental benefits update.

What’s new here?

Traditionally, Medicaid has covered nursing home care. Medicare has covered home medical care, but it has not covered non-medical home care — such as help with dressing, or meal delivery services — that might help people cope with the lack of ability to handle the “activities of daily living.”

Last spring, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) freed insurers to add some  “homemaker services” to their benefits packages, by telling insurers that it would let them add benefits addressing the “social determinants of care” and the needs of people with chronic conditions to their Medicare Advantage plan benefits packages.

What new benefits will now be available through Medicare Advantage plans?

The gestation of a human baby usually takes 40 weeks. Adding new benefits to health plans often takes much longer.

But Avalere analysts found, after combing through huge benefits package data files from CMS, that many Medicare Advantage plans will offer at least one of the  benefits made possible by the new CMS rules in 2019.

The most popular of the top five new supplemental benefits is a wellness benefit, not a short-term care version of an LTC benefit: 1,653 of the plans the Avalere analysts reviewed will offer nicotine replacement therapy in 2019.

For data on the four most common mini-LTC-type benefits, see the data cards in the slideshow above. (Hover your cursor pointer over the slideshow box to see the arrows that steer the slides back and forth.)

Note that, even when a benefit is of the type that might be offered by a long-term care insurance (LTCI), or short-term care insurance (STCI), policy, the amounts of the services covered by a 2019 Medicare Advantage plan may be much smaller than what an LTCI or STCI policy would cover. Some Anthem plans, for example, will cover meal delivery for some patients, but only for a period of up to 42 days.

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