For the third year, health care leaders from the nation’s top Medicare Advantage health plans brought their collective brainpower to Phoenix for the Medicare Advantage Leadership Innovations conference. Tackling a range of important issues and challenges — from technology innovations to regulatory influences to evolving member priorities, speakers and attendees shared their proven strategies and best practices for driving meaningful results in a complex, ever-changing market.
While the conference was abuzz with many important themes, we’ve bubbled up the top ones to keep you in the know about the changes and opportunities coming your way this year:
1. For better star ratings, focus on member experience.
With a projected growth this year of nearly 10 percent, Medicare Advantage enrollment is growing at record speed. To reflect the evolving needs and priorities of today’s Medicare Advantage population, CMS has made some important changes to its five-star quality rating system. Of particular note is the shift in measure weight for the member experience.
Moving from 1.5 to 2, the member experience will now represent a bigger piece of the performance pie for health plans. Health plans looking to boost their overall ratings should pay particularly close attention to how well they serve their members — that is, how easily members can get an appointment and coordinate care, how quickly they can access the information they need and the quality of care being delivered. These criteria play a big role in how members rate their plans — and thus, have the potential to fuel (or stall) your plan’s performance and business growth.
2. To attract and keep more Medicare members, prioritize dental.
Dental is the #1 supplemental benefit today’s Medicare members value. In fact, at the conference, Kurt Waltenbaugh from Carrot Health shared DEFT research that showed that seniors desire dental benefits and actually expect oral care to be a part of their Medicare Advantage plan.
Prioritizing dental not only gives members what they value, it results in healthier members. Research shows that oral care plays an important role in preventing, detecting and managing the chronic diseases that plague seniors today (e.g. chronic heart disease and diabetes), and provides important clues about a person’s overall health.
In short, dental is no longer an optional “add-on” service, but rather the most highly-coveted Medicare member benefit. Health plans that recognize and embrace the value of dental will be well positioned to expand their membership base and their competitive advantage.
3. To positively impact seniors, look to the social determinants of health.
While breaking down social barriers in health is critical at any level of our health care system, it plays a particularly important role when it comes to senior health. Lack of a support system, transportation and limited mobility are just a few of the many care barriers facing today’s seniors. In fact, millions of Medicare Advantage patients are homebound or live in rural settings, making access to quality care a difficult feat.
As we settle into this new decade, embracing innovative approaches to improve senior access to care is a top priority for today’s health care leaders. As DentaQuest vice president Brian Jones explored here and as part of a panel discussion at the conference, a one-size-fits-all approach to care cannot adequately address the diverse needs of today’s seniors. Moving forward, you will see more customized solutions that tackle the root causes of key social challenges. For example, a solution like telehealth can vastly improve access and preventative care for rural seniors, enabling them to live healthier, higher-quality lives.
To learn more about the innovative ways we are collaborating with health plans to tackle these important Medicare Advantage shifts:
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