Does Medicare Cover a Grocery Benefit?
Some Medicare Advantage plans may offer a grocery benefit, such as healthy meal options or a flex card you can use for food. Learn more and find out if any Medicare plans with grocery benefits are available where you live.
While Original Medicare (Parts A and B) doesn't cover healthy food options, some Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans may offer a grocery benefit, such as a flex card you can use to buy healthy food or home meal delivery as you recover from recent care at an inpatient facility.
It's important to note that not all Medicare Advantage plans offer grocery benefits or other additional benefits not covered by Original Medicare.
In this Medicare grocery benefits review, we outline how Medicare Advantage plans work and how you can compare plans to find out if a Medicare grocery benefit is available with a Medicare Advantage plan where you live.
When Does Medicare Advantage Pay for Groceries?
In 2023, 71% of Medicare Advantage plans offer extra benefits that include meal benefits.1
For those enrolled in a Medicare Advantage with meal benefits, the Medicare grocery benefit may have limitations, restrictions and out-of-pocket costs.
Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private insurance companies and may provide additional benefits beyond what Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) offers. 89% of Medicare Advantage plans offer prescription drug coverage in 2023.
Because not all plans offer Medicare grocery benefits, you may want to consider speaking with a licensed insurance agent who can compare benefits of the plans sold where you live.
Eligibility Criteria for Grocery Benefits
To be eligible for Medicare grocery benefits, you must:
- Be enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B
- Be enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan offered in your ZIP code that offers a grocery benefit
- Meet any additional required qualifications. Some plans require that you have both Medicare and Medicaid or have a qualifying chronic condition
To find out if your current plan includes a grocery benefit, check your plan's Summary of Benefits or contact your plan carrier's customer service department.
If you're not yet enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan but would like to explore options, you can request a free plan comparison online or call to speak with a licensed insurance agent who can review your eligibility and – if eligible for an enrollment period – help you enroll.
Medicare Grocery Benefit vs Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
A Medicare grocery benefit offered through a Medicare Advantage plan should not be confused with the federally-funded program called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
SNAP provides temporary assistance to low-income households facing hunger, while a Medicare grocery benefit is specifically designed for members of a Medicare health plan offered by a private insurance company.
Utilize Your Grocery Benefit
If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan that offers a grocery benefit, it's essential to make the most of this valuable perk.
- Understand coverage limits
Be aware of any monthly or annual spending caps on groceries and ensure you stay within those limits. You can find this information in your plan materials or by speaking with a representative from the private insurance company offering the Medicare Advantage Plan.
- Purchase approved items
Use your electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card – if your Medicare Advantage plan uses this or another type of flex card – to buy eligible items at participating retailers like Food Lion, Publix, Costco, Wegmans, etc.
Remember that only health-oriented groceries are covered under this benefit; alcohol, pet food, and hygienic products might not be covered by your plan.
- Nutritional counseling support
Some plans may offer nutritional counseling services to help members make healthier choices when shopping for groceries. Take advantage of these resources if they're available through your specific Medicare Advantage Plan.
To see if your plan offers a Medicare grocery benefit, check your plan's Summary of Benefits or contact your insurance provider. Request a free plan quote or call to speak with a licensed insurance agent if you'd like to compare plans in your area that may include a grocery benefit.
We represent carriers such as Humana, UnitedHealthcare®, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Aetna, Cigna Healthcare, Wellcare, or Kaiser Permanente.
1 Freed M, et al. (Nov. 10, 2022). Medicare Advantage 2023 Spotlight: First Look. Kaiser Family Foundation. www.kff.org/medicare/issue-brief/medicare-advantage-2023-spotlight-first-look.