Affordability, simplicity, and accessibility remain the three targets that payers aim to hit during Medicare open enrollment season, according to Christopher Ciano, president of Aetna Medicare.
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The push for greater affordability is perhaps most evident in the growing number of zero-dollar premium health plans available to beneficiaries in 2022. For Aetna members, approximately 84 percent of all Aetna’s beneficiaries will have access to a zero-dollar premium Medicare Advantage health plan.
Our goal is not only to design zero premium plans, which are becoming more and more popular, but more importantly, you do have to start to look at the availability and the cost components of the other benefits,” Ciano told Healthcare Strategies.
“We want to make sure beneficiaries can have access to care and that cost is not going to be a barrier to that. So in those highly popular, highly utilized services, we’ve put zero cost on many of those services as well so that they can get the screenings they need and they can go see their primary care without feeling any barrier due to affordability.”
Healthcare literacy is an evergreen challenge that payers face during Medicare open enrollment.
In an effort to make materials more comprehensible and clear for beneficiaries while staying within CMS guidelines, Aetna has taken steps to simplify the language in the company’s enrollment-related communications with beneficiaries through its We Speak Human program.
Accessibility has taken on another layer of gravity with the restrictions that the coronavirus pandemic placed on access to care, especially for seniors.
Ciano highlighted the impact that social isolation has had on seniors and the drive to move more senior care into the home. Payers have innovated new ways to deliver care at home through methods such as sending screening materials to the home so that seniors can conduct their own screenings and return them by mail.
“Members will start to remember some of those program enhancements and then start to think about them as they think about their plan choices of the future,” Ciano said. “So we are getting much more holistic in our ability to bring programs together to try to meet individual beneficiary needs.”