Puerto Rico Treasury Dept. confirms Medicare cash benefit is not income
The Puerto Rico Treasury Department has ruled that the cash benefit available in certain products to Medicare Advantage plan members is not considered income and, therefore, does not affect the member’s eligibility for other programs and services based on income.
“We’re very pleased that the Treasury Department expressed and confirmed through a ruling that the cash benefit included in certain products doesn’t have a tax impact for members who choose a coverage with said benefit,” said Madeline Hernández-Urquiza, president of Triple-S Advantage.
“This confirms our position and recognizes this new type of benefit that CMS (Centers of Service for Medicare and Medicaid) approved for Triple-S Advantage to address members’ everyday needs and support better health,” she said.
The benefit offers up to $160 per month for members who choose a coverage with this benefit. This money is available through the Triple-S Advantage Mastercard, and they can use the card to make purchases at any establishment that accepts Mastercard.
It can also be withdrawn as cash at ATMs and used for whatever the member decides, such as paying for utilities such as water, electricity, internet, and food, health service copayments, or any other essentials.
Triple-S Advantage is part of a group of 19 insurers out of a total of 705 throughout the United States and Puerto Rico authorized to offer this benefit model, known as Value-Based Insurance Design Model (V-BID). The model allows greater flexibility in designing benefits for Medicare Advantage plan members, Hernández-Urquiza said.
“Social factors, also known as social determinants of health, play an increasingly important role in the health of Puerto Ricans, particularly for older adults. Participating in this model gave us the flexibility to address the financial needs of our members,” she stated.
The Triple-S Advantage Mastercard was introduced to the market this year. It is the first time that traditional health benefits and a payment method for goods and services have been combined in a single health plan ID card.
The company also offers its traditional ID card for those members who choose products without this type of benefit or who do not want it.