Medicare expands access to in-home support for seniors

WASHINGTON (AP) — Seniors in many states will be able to get additional services like help with chores, safety devices and respite for caregivers next year through private “Medicare Advantage” insurance plans.

It’s a harbinger of potentially big changes for Medicare.

The shift reflects a recognition that help at home can have a meaningful impact on patients’ well-being — and reduce taxpayer costs.

Medicare estimates seniors in 20 states will have access to plans with expanded benefits. That’s expected to grow.

There has to be a health-related reason to qualify, and costs will vary. There are limits. For example, a plan may cover use of an adult day care center only one day per week.

Major insurers like Anthem, UnitedHealthcare and Humana are participating.

Medicare Advantage open enrollment for 2019 ends Dec. 7.

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