Dual Eligible Special Needs Plans (DSNP) are a unique type of Medicare Advantage plan designed to provide comprehensive health benefits for individuals who qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid, often referred to as “dual eligible.” These plans are becoming increasingly important as they cater to a significant, yet underrepresented demographic in the Medicare market. Approximately 12 million Americans, or 20% of the Medicare population, are dual eligible, but less than 30% of these individuals are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage or Special Needs Plan (D-SNP).
What is a DSNP?
DSNPs are designed to provide a comprehensive set of health benefits to dual eligible individuals. These plans often include features such as $0 monthly premiums, care coordination, vision and hearing benefits, over-the-counter quarterly benefits, transportation benefits, telehealth services, gym memberships, and Part D coverage for prescription drugs.
In addition to these health benefits, DSNPs also provide social services to help coordinate a beneficiary’s Medicare and Medicaid benefits. This includes coverage for hospital services (Medicare Part A), medical health care needs (Medicare Part B), and prescription drugs (Medicare Part D) through a single plan.
Who is Eligible for a DSNP?
To be eligible for a DSNP, an individual must qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare eligibility typically requires an individual to be 65 years old or older or have a qualifying disability. Medicaid eligibility, on the other hand, is determined by an individual’s income and asset level, which must fall below certain thresholds set by their state.
Types of DSNP
There are five types of DSNP, each offering varying degrees of Medicaid coverage:
- All Dual
- Full Benefit
- Medicare Zero Cost Sharing
- Dual Eligible Subset
- Dual Eligible Subset Medicare Zero Cost Sharing
Enrollment in DSNP
Eligible individuals can enroll in a DSNP during the regular Medicare Advantage enrollment period or a Special Enrollment Period (SEP). The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has implemented changes to the LIS/Dual Special Enrollment Period, allowing beneficiaries eligible for the LIS/Dual SEP to make a coverage change one time per quarter during the first nine months of the year.
Is DSNP Right for You?
DSNPs can be a great way to receive comprehensive health coverage if you qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid. However, it’s important to understand that the eligibility requirements and benefits can vary significantly between plans and states. Therefore, it’s crucial to thoroughly research your options and consider seeking advice from a licensed agent or broker who specializes in DSNPs.
Remember, the goal of DSNPs is to provide comprehensive, coordinated care to individuals who qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid. If you’re eligible, these plans can offer a valuable way to manage your health care needs and potentially reduce your out-of-pocket costs.