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Does Medicare Cover Meal Delivery Services?

senior man having a meal delivered to his house

As most older adults know, a healthy diet can make a difference in how we feel and the quality of life we enjoy in our Golden Years. Meal delivery services provide a simple way to make eating at home more leisurely, safe, and enjoyable. Seniors all over the country have been embracing this option in recent years.

Each meal delivery company is different, and there may be minor variations in how services work. Basically, each time you order, you make selections from the menu of meals offered. On a designated day, a box will arrive at your door containing either prepared dishes made from fresh ingredients or a meal kit with the pre-portioned ingredients you need to prepare meals in your own kitchen.

Original Medicare will not cover meal delivery services for seniors. However, some Medicare plans will cover them under certain circumstances.

Which Medicare Plans Cover Meal Delivery Services?

Under Medicare Part C, private insurance companies provide Medicare Advantage health plans. These plans provide benefits over and beyond those provided by Original Medicare. Benefits differ among Medicare Advantage plans, although they all must meet certain requirements established by Medicare. In 2022, 71% of Medicare Advantage enrollees in individual plans had meal benefits, as reported by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF). These benefits may include nutrition education, cooking classes, and meal delivery services.

Most Medicare Advantage Plans offer either a set number of meals or meals for a set period of time after a senior leaves the hospital or a skilled nursing facility. Some Medicare enrollees with chronic health conditions may be eligible for meal benefits. However, these benefits are usually available through a specific type of Medicare Advantage Plan known as a Special Needs Plan (SNP). Examples of SNP health conditions include diabetes, congestive heart failure, and end-stage renal disease. A 2020 update by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) may have made it possible for people with chronic health conditions to access more Medicare Advantage meal benefits.

Are There Additional Meal Delivery Options for Seniors?

In March 2020, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services approved $250 million in grants for meal delivery services for qualifying adults and those with chronic medical conditions. As part of a pilot program launched in 2019, people receiving nutrition assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) may be able to use SNAP to order groceries online. These orders may include prepared grocery store meals.

Another option is Meals on Wheels, a program funded by the federal government. This program helps men and women ages 60 and older with meal deliveries. Eligibility for Meals on Wheels can vary by location and individual program.

Good nutrition is essential for good health. If you are eligible for Medicare, depending on the plan you choose and other factors, you may qualify for meal delivery services when you enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan. Our knowledgeable agent is happy to meet with you and help you find a Medicare plan that suits your healthcare needs.

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