Does Medicare Offer a Grocery Benefit?

Christian Worstell
In this article...
  • Many Medicare Advantage plans offer extra coverage like grocery benefits. Learn about Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans and the other extra benefits they may offer, such as dental, vision, fitness club memberships and more.

If you need assistance getting your groceries, you might be surprised to learn that you may be able to get some help from a Medicare health plan. 

While Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B) does not cover groceries or meals, Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) plans can. Medicare Advantage, or Medicare Part C, are plans sold by private insurance companies that are required by law to cover everything that is included in Original Medicare. 

Many Medicare Advantage plans also cover extra benefits Original Medicare doesn’t cover, such as prescription drugs, dental, vision and hearing care.

In 2023, over 70% of Medicare Advantage plans offer a meal benefit such as a grocery benefit.1 Some plans offer a grocery benefit through a healthy meal card or a Medicare flex card.

What Is a Medicare Grocery Benefit?

A grocery benefit that is part of a Medicare Advantage plan typically comes in the form of a monthly, quarterly or annual allowance on a flex benefit card that may be used for the purchase of qualifying food items.

Qualifying items are generally healthy in nature and include things like:

  • Meats 
  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Salad kits
  • Dairy products
  • Beans
  • Grains 
  • Baking goods like flour and sugar
  • Nutrition shakes and bars
  • Water 

The list of eligible food items and the allowance amount will vary from one plan to another, as will the amount of the allowance. Things like soda, alcohol, candy, junk food and tobacco are typically not eligible for coverage. 

Allowances typically do not carry over from one month, quarter or year to the next. 

What Is the Healthy Food Card?

A healthy food card is a pre-paid debit card or credit card issued to members of Medicare Advantage plans that include a grocery benefit. The card is used at the grocery store to purchase the approved food items just like any other debit or credit card. 

The stores at which you may use your healthy food card will vary by plan but often include major retailers like Walmart, Food Lion, Kroger, CVS, Publix, Walgreens and more. 

What Is an OTC Medicare Card?

An OTC or over-the-counter card is a card similar to a healthy foods card. One difference is that instead of being used to purchase food items, an OTC card is used to purchase approved over-the-counter health products such as:

  • Cold medicine
  • Contact lens solution
  • Band-Aids
  • Compression socks
  • Rash or itch creams
  • Hearing aid batteries
  • Nicotine gum
  • Toothpaste
  • Heating pads
  • Hand sanitizer

The list of approved items that may be purchased with a Medicare OTC card are often quite extensive and include a broad range of categories. 

Some Medicare Advantage plans include a grocery benefit and an OTC benefit, each with separate cards. Other plans include one type of card and benefit but not the other. And some plans may combine groceries and over-the-counter items on one benefit card.  

As with healthy food cards, OTC card allowance amounts, approved retailers and approved items will vary from plan to plan. Major retailers like Walmart, CVS and Walgreens are typically included.

Some plans require purchases to be made online or through an order form.

What Other Extra Benefits Can I Get From a Medicare Advantage Plan?

In addition to being able to purchase healthy foods at the grocery store, a Medicare Advantage plan may also be able to provide you with prepared meals delivered right to your door. 

  • Medicare meal delivery benefits are typically reserved for beneficiaries who have been recently released from the hospital or a skilled nursing facility and are recovering at home. Coverage may last for a certain number of days or specific number of meals.

    Like the healthy foods benefit, home delivered meals must typically meet certain nutrition standards for coverage. Plans often partner with organizations such as Meals on Wheels to execute the benefit.

  • Some Special Needs Plans may even cover home delivered meals on a more permanent basis and may allocate a select number of meals per month or year to be covered for beneficiaries with chronic health conditions. 

  • Some Medicare Advantage plans cover non-emergency medical transportation to doctor’s appointments, pharmacies and more. Covered transportation may come via taxi rides, ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft or public transportation. 

  • SilverSneakers is another popular benefit found in many Medicare Advantage plans. SilverSneakers is a fitness and wellness program designed specifically for older adults that includes workout routines, educational classes, clubs, sports leagues and more. 

  • Another helpful benefit that is sometimes included in Medicare Advantage plans is coverage of home modifications like wheelchair ramps and grab bars that help older adults age in place at home. 

And while Original Medicare does provide some coverage for in-home care, some Medicare Advantage plans offer expanded benefits for things like skilled nursing care, occupational therapy, physical therapy and other services performed in the home. 

How Do I Enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan With Grocery Benefits?

You must be enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B in order to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan. You must also live in the plan’s service area in order to be eligible for enrollment. 

Contact a licensed insurance agent to ask about any Medicare Advantage plans available where you live that include grocery benefits or an OTC card. An agent will be able to confirm your eligibility, help you compare different plan options and enroll you right over the phone. 

Christian Worstell
About the Author

Christian Worstell is a senior Medicare and health insurance writer with He is also a licensed health insurance agent. Christian is well-known in the insurance industry for the thousands of educational articles he’s written, helping Americans better understand their health insurance and Medicare coverage.

Christian’s work as a Medicare expert has appeared in several top-tier and trade news outlets including Forbes, MarketWatch, WebMD and Yahoo! Finance.

While at HelpAdvisor, Christian has written hundreds of articles that teach Medicare beneficiaries the best practices for navigating Medicare. His articles are read by thousands of older Americans each month. By better understanding their health care coverage, readers may hopefully learn how to limit their out-of-pocket Medicare spending and access quality medical care.

Christian’s passion for his role stems from his desire to make a difference in the senior community. He strongly believes that the more beneficiaries know about their Medicare coverage, the better their overall health and wellness is as a result.

A current resident of Raleigh, Christian is a graduate of Shippensburg University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. You can find Christian’s most recent articles in our blog.

If you’re a member of the media looking to connect with Christian, please don’t hesitate to email our public relations team at

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