Commentary: Medicare Advantage improves patient outcomes for NH’s most vulnerable

One out of every five New Hampshire residents is over 60 years old, making our state’s population one of the oldest in the country. As this trend increases, it will be critical to continue promoting and expanding access to health care and wellness services that help aging and disabled Granite Staters stay healthier, safer and more active.

Tom Maher
Tom Maher

Through Medicare Advantage, some 29.5 million Americans nationwide — including more than 90,000 seniors and individuals with disabilities here in New Hampshire — are able to access a broad range of innovative, life-changing health-care benefits and services that are improving patient outcomes while reducing out-of-pocket costs. That is vital in these times of record inflation and soaring cost of living, especially given that seniors on Medicare Advantage are on fixed incomes.

As we continue to move forward from the coronavirus pandemic, policymakers should be doing everything they can to ensure that Medicare Advantage remains strong and on stable financial ground for the tens of millions of vulnerable Americans who rely on it — as well as the millions more who are projected to be enrolled in the next few years. That’s why the Healthcare Leadership Council was pleased to take part in a recent roundtable discussion about the value of Medicare Advantage to Granite Staters hosted by the Better Medicare Alliance.

During the event, members of the Medicare Advantage community — including local providers, senior wellness groups, and beneficiaries themselves — discussed the critical role the program plays in our communities. We were honored to have New Hampshire’s own Rep. Chris Pappas join us to talk about his support for Medicare Advantage and provide some political perspective on the bipartisan effort in Washington to protect the program, so it is even stronger for patients and providers alike.

When polled, 94% of seniors in Medicare Advantage say they are satisfied with their coverage. It’s not hard to understand why when the program is improving patient outcomes for seniors while actually saving them money in reduced health care costs.

According to recent research, Medicare Advantage helps seniors and individuals with disabilities save roughly $2,000 per year in premiums and out-of-pocket expenses compared to those enrolled in Fee-For-Service Medicare.

Medicare Advantage connects beneficiaries to an unparalleled suite of services that care for the whole person. These offerings range from more flexible dental, vision, and prescription coverage to more innovative benefits like transportation to and from medical appointments, meal delivery, in-home support, telehealth, and wellness programs like SilverSneakers.

A Medicare Advantage beneficiary at the BMA roundtable praised Medicare Advantage’s partnership with the SilverSneakers program, noting how it has helped improved his health, “I started in 2020 when I turned 65. I have a bum knee, but I get to use the SilverSneakers program, and I've actually dropped 50 pounds. So, I have to say, it’s nice … that's been a big help.”

Holly Stevens, director of public policy for National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of New Hampshire, also discussed how Medicare Advantage is helping seniors get access to telehealth services and mental and behavioral health benefits which has been crucial to address social and clinical needs during the pandemic when many were left isolated.

Rep. Pappas has been instrumental in supporting Medicare Advantage. New Hampshire’s health and senior care community should thank Rep. Pappas for his work to protect and strengthen the program so that Granite Staters can continue to access the high quality and affordable care they get through Medicare Advantage. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle should help ensure Medicare Advantage continues to play a critical role in delivering comprehensive, innovative care for seniors and individuals with disabilities in the Granite State and throughout the country.

Tom Maher is the regional director of the Healthcare Leadership Council. He resides in New Castle.

This article originally appeared on Portsmouth Herald: Commentary: Medicare Advantage improves patient outcomes in NH