San Francisco — An analysis of new data for 2024 from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reveals that “memory fitness” supplemental benefits (often called “brain exercises”) have become one of the most popular offerings in the increasingly competitive Medicare Advantage market. San Francisco-based Posit Science reports that its BrainHQ brain exercise app is the memory fitness benefit selected by the most Medicare Advantage organizations (MAOs), with a reach that has grown more than ten-fold in the past four years.
Medicare Advantage (MA), the managed care insurance plans offered by non-profit and for-profit corporations as an alternative to traditional Medicare, has grown to over30 million members — more than half of the Medicare market. The growth in MA has been fueled by low (often zero dollar) monthly premiums, as well as by offering supplemental benefits not covered by traditional Medicare.
In their analysis of newly-available data on which preventive supplemental benefits are being offered by different MA plans in 2024, healthcare industry consultant Faegre Drinker notes there is a competitive “arms race to offer new and more compelling additional services available through MA that are not available through traditional Medicare.”
According to the Faegre Drinker analysis, the highest growth in popular (i.e., offered by more than 1000 MA plans) supplemental benefits is home and bathroom safety devices, which has been offered for many years, but surged by 120%, in 2024, which experts say may be due to newer models for distribution of safety advice and services and increased focus on preventing falls. Adoption of memory fitness has also benefited from concern about falls, since multiple studies show BrainHQ reduces fall and mobility risks (including a 10-year study of more than 2800 adults, which showed a 31% reduction in fall incidence among those most at-risk for falls).
The most widely-offered popular benefit continues to be physical fitness (often called “gym benefits”). Such benefits are offered by 89% of MA plans and are often considered table stakes for competing in the MA market. However, the new data suggest that gym benefits may have reached market saturation, as its growth in plans plateaued for 2024. The data also indicates that memory fitness is now offered by 1 in 4 plans which offer a gym benefit, thereby delivering a mind-body solution to members.
Rounding out the popular benefits, health education benefits continue to grow (at 6% in 2024), while all the other popular benefits (remote access technologies, tobacco cessation, nutrition, personal emergency response systems, and activity trackers) showed negative growth — a decline in the number of plans offering them — in 2024.
“We’re pleased to see substantial growth in our offerings through MA plans,” said Dr. Henry Mahncke, CEO of Posit Science. “We know from the dozens of plans we work with and from many surveys of MA members that brain health is a top concern of seniors, and that offering mind-body health really resonates with older adults as a compelling pairing of benefits.”
Independent surveys released in prior years by AARP and by the Natural Marketing Institute, have indicated that brain health and performance is often the top concern of seniors. A national survey of Medicare eligible seniors and age-ins, conducted by healthcare data analysts at Deft Research in 2023, indicated that: 91% of respondents said brain health was “as or more important” than physical health; 69% of respondents said that they were somewhat, very, or extremely likely to use a scientifically-validated memory fitness program (with interest even higher among plan shoppers); and that when asked to serially rank benefit preferences, the top choice of respondents among 10 popular preventive benefits was a healthy brain benefit.
BrainHQ has shown benefits in hundreds of studies. Such benefits include gains in cognition (attention, speed, memory, decision-making), in quality of life (depressive symptoms, confidence and control, health-related quality of life) and in real-world activities (health outcomes, balance, driving, hearing). BrainHQ is offered, without charge, by leading national and 5-star Medicare Advantage plans and by leading medical centers, clinics, and communities. Consumers can try a BrainHQ exercise for free daily at https://www.brainhq.com.