Medicare Grocery Allowance: What Is It and Which Plans Offer It?
Ever heard about Medicare offering a grocery allowance? Wondering if it's true and if you can get it?
Well, the truth is, Original Medicare (that's Parts A and B) doesn't offer a grocery allowance. However, some Medicare Advantage plans may offer an allowance to buy healthy foods for those who qualify.
So, if you're curious about what the Medicare grocery allowance is or which plans offer it, we're here to help.
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What Is a Medicare Grocery Allowance?
A Medicare grocery allowance, also known as the healthy foods benefit, is an extra benefit included in certain Medicare Advantage plans. It offers a monthly budget to help buy nutritious foods and pantry staples for those who qualify.
The benefit is only offered through certain Medicare Advantage plans and not everyone will qualify for it.
Which Medicare Plans Offer a Grocery Allowance?
Neither the Original Medicare program, which includes Part A and Part B, nor a Medicare Supplement plan would offer the grocery benefit.
A Medicare Supplement plan simply supplements the existing coverage of Original Medicare. It doesn’t introduce any extra benefits.
The only plans that offer a grocery allowance are called Medicare Advantage plans – but, as you might expect, not all of them have this perk. Special Needs Plans (SNPs) are the Medicare Advantage plans that are most likely to have a grocery allowance, but you must meet certain eligibility criteria to qualify for those plans.
How to become eligible
If you are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid, you may qualify for a Dual Eligible Special Needs Plan (D-SNP), or if you have certain chronic health conditions like diabetes, COPD, end-stage renal disease, or heart disease, you may qualify for a Chronic Condition Special Needs Plan (C-SNP).
Availability of plans with a grocery allowance varies by location. There may or may not be a plan in your county that offers a grocery allowance.
Also, it's important to keep in mind that plan benefits can change from year to year, meaning that an Advantage plan that offers the grocery allowance this year might not offer it next year, and vice versa. The best way to stay up to date on plan benefits is to speak to a trusted Medicare broker like us here at Sams/Hockaday.
We can run a plan comparison of all the Medicare Advantage plans in our area at the time you’re looking for coverage. This way, you'll know which plans – if any – offer a grocery allowance or any other specific benefits you are looking for.
How Does It Work?
If your Medicare Advantage plan offers a grocery allowance and you qualify for it, you will most likely be sent what's called a flex card.
The flex card is loaded with a prepaid amount each month that you can use to pay for Medicare expenses, and in this case, grocery purchases.
The amount you receive each month depends on your plan and your location but typically ranges anywhere from $25-$275 per month with the average being somewhere around $150.
You can use some Flex cards to buy eligible food items at approved grocery stores and, depending on the plan, you may also be able to buy those groceries online or get your groceries delivered right to your doorstep.
What Can I Buy with the Medicare Food Allowance?
The goal of the healthy food benefit is to provide you with the means to purchase healthy foods. That's why the allowance can only be used for nutritious foods like dairy products, fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, seafood, and other healthy pantry staples.
Some plans may also allow you to buy certain over-the-counter medicines. Sugary and processed foods are usually excluded, but each plan might have its own slightly different list of what's allowed.
If you happen to have certain chronic health conditions, you may also be eligible for benefits that are not primarily related to health which would include things like pest control, non-medical transportation, pet care services, house cleaning, and more, in addition to the groceries.
Again, these extra benefits will vary by plan and not everyone will qualify.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the Medicare grocery allowance real?
Yes, the Medicare grocery allowance is real; however, it is not offered by Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) or by any Medicare Supplement plans. It is only offered to qualifying individuals as part of select Medicare Advantage plans.
Do Medicare Supplement plans offer the Medicare grocery benefit?
No, a Medicare Supplement plan only supplements the existing coverage of Original Medicare. It doesn’t introduce any new or extra benefits.
How do I qualify for the Medicare grocery benefit?
To qualify for a Medicare Advantage plan that offers a grocery benefit, you must meet certain eligibility criteria. That could mean qualifying for both Medicare and Medicaid or having a certain chronic condition.
Not all plans that offer a grocery allowance offer it to everyone. Check with a trusted insurance broker like our team here at Sams/Hockaday to see if you qualify.
How much money do I get each month for the Medicare grocery benefit?
The amount you receive each month depends on your Medicare Advantage plan and your location. It typically ranges anywhere from $25-$275 per month, with the average being somewhere around $150.
What can I buy with my Medicare grocery benefit?
You can buy healthy foods like dairy products, fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, seafood, and other healthy pantry staples. Some plans may also allow you to buy certain over-the-counter medicines.
Where can I use my Medicare Flex card to buy groceries?
If you have a Medicare Advantage plan that offers grocery benefits, you can use your Flex card at select grocery stores. You'll want to check with your insurance company for a list of local grocery stores that are allowed, but some common stores include Walmart, Walgreens, Kroger, and CVS.
Depending on your plan, you may also be able to buy groceries online or get your food delivered right to your doorstep.
The Medicare grocery allowance is great for those who need help buying nutritious foods to stay healthy. But only select Medicare Advantage plans offer the benefit, and not everyone will qualify.
If you want to explore plans that offer a Medicare grocery benefit, don't hesitate to talk to the licensed sales agents here at Sams/Hockaday. We're here to help you find the perfect coverage for your needs. We'll check to see if any plans in your county offer the grocery benefit and if you would be eligible.
For a plan comparison and personalized assistance, get in touch with us today! We're here to guide you through your Medicare options and ensure you make the most informed decision for your health, well-being, and budget.