The 2021 Medicare & You Handbook Is Here – See What’s New

Sep 30, 2020 | 2021 Medicare Handbook, End-stage renal disease (ESRD), Medicare

By: Western Asset Protection

The National Medicare & You 2021 handbook has arrived, and it’s full of important information for the coming year. Here’s a look at some of the new highlights

More Options for People with ESRD

Starting in plan year 2021, beneficiaries with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) can join Medicare Advantage plan. Patients with ESRD can review their plan options and make an enrollment decision during the coming AEP, which runs from October 15, 2020, to December 7, 2020.

New Benefits for Enrollees

Several benefits are being introduced or expanded.

  • Medicare has started covered up to 12 acupuncture visits in 90 days to treat chronic low back pain. If a patient shows improvement, eight more sessions will be covered, but Medicare will not cover more than 20 sessions in a year.
  • Telehealth benefits allow enrollees to get care remotely. Medicare is covering e-visits to let patients talk to a doctor using an online portal and virtual check-ins to let patients connect with providers using a phone or integrated audio/video system.
  • The Part D Senior Savings Model provides affordable insulin. Participating plans will offer insulin for a maximum copay of $35 for a 30-day supply starting January 1, 2021. Look for plans participating is this model. 

Comparison Tools and the E-Medicare Initiative

CMS has been rolling out new digital tools and upgrades. CMS announced the eMedicare initiative in 2018, describing it as a multiyear plan that would “provide a seamless online health care experience to meet the growing expectations for this generation of Medicare beneficiaries.” The initiative included plans for many improvements, including an online version of Medicare & You, mobile and webchat options and improved online tools.

  • Last year, major changes were made to the Medicare Plan Finder tool right before AEP.
  • This year, Medicare has also rolled out the new Care Compare This streamlined tool provides information on doctors and clinicians; hospitals; nursing homes; home health services; hospice care; inpatient rehabilitation facilities; long-term care hospitals; and dialysis facilities.
  • The new Blue Button 2.0 lets enrollees share Medicare Part A, Part B and Part D claim information with authorized apps, services and research programs. Enrollees who authorize for their information to be shared with an app will be able to use that app to see Medicare claims information. (The original Blue Button lets enrollees download health information for easy access.
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