Does Medicare Cover Meal Delivery?
- While Original Medicare (Parts A and B) don’t cover meal delivery, many Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans are starting to cover home meal delivery. Learn more about healthy food delivery options and find out if any such plans are available where you live.
Some Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) plans cover meal delivery to your home, typically while you’re recovering from an illness, injury or serious operation. In 2023, 71% of Medicare Advantage plans offer a meal benefit.1
Medicare Advantage plans are required to cover everything that Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B) covers. Many Medicare Advantage plans also offer benefits that are not found in Original Medicare. Some of the most common of these extra benefits include prescription drug coverage, dental, hearing and vision.
Some Medicare Advantage plans may also offer additional benefits that such as meal delivery services, non-emergency medical transportation, free membership to fitness and wellness programs like SilverSneakers and more.
These benefits can vary by plan and may not be available in all areas. You can compare plans online to find out what benefits are available in Medicare Advantage plans where you live, or you can call to speak with a licensed insurance agent who can help you compare benefits and costs of available plans.
When Does Medicare Advantage Pay for Meal Delivery?
There are many different Medicare Advantage plans sold by different insurance companies, and the benefits offered by each plan may vary.
Some Medicare Advantage plans that cover meal delivery may do so for a set length of time or for a set number of meals after you’ve been discharged from an inpatient stay at a hospital or skilled nursing facility. The coverage may not be permanent and may instead be designed to provide home-delivered meals while recuperating from a surgery, illness or injury that required hospitalization.
For home-delivered meals to be covered, they generally must meet the Medicare standard for nutrition and portion size. The plan may also require a minimum number of inpatient days spent at the hospital or skilled nursing facility for the meal delivery benefits to take effect. In some cases, the meals may be customized to any dietary needs such as Gluten-free or vegetarian, as requested by the beneficiary or ordered by a doctor.
There may be some Medicare Advantage plans that offer home meal delivery for beneficiaries who have a chronic health condition. These plans may cover a set number of meals per month or year, and they may or may not be dependent on any inpatient stay and are intended for longer-term use. One type of Medicare Advantage plan called a Special Needs Plan (SNP) can be designed for people with chronic conditions like diabetes, cancer, End-Stage Renal Disease and other conditions. Some SNPs may cover meal delivery more fully than some other Medicare plans.
Medicare Advantage plans that cover home meal delivery may contract with a third-party organization such as Meals on Wheels to deliver the meals.
In addition to covering home meal delivery, some Medicare Advantage plans may cover healthy grocery food or even transportation to the grocery store. Some Medicare Advantage plans may even provide coverage for personal care received in the home, which can include assistance with meal preparation.
Contact a licensed insurance agent who sells Medicare Advantage plans in your area to learn about any available plans that offer coverage of meal delivery.
What Are Some Additional Resources for Meal Delivery?
There may be a few additional options for meal delivery for seniors and the elderly in your community.
If you qualify for Medicaid, you may be able to receive home-delivered meals if you are homebound and unable to prepare meals on your own. Medicaid benefits vary by state, so check with your state Medicaid program for more information about meal delivery coverage.
The Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) is funded by both Medicare and Medicaid and offers various services to those 55 and older. Some of the benefits that might be available to qualifying individuals include meal delivery or meal preparation in your home.
The Administration for Community Living (ACL) helps seniors connect with various community services including meal delivery. Services can vary by location, but you can compare meal delivery options in your area online.
Meals on Wheels
Even if your Medicare Advantage plan doesn’t partner with Meals on Wheels, you may still be eligible for the service. Eligibility rules vary by location, but free and low-cost meals are typically available to those who qualify.
Find Medicare Advantage Plans That Cover Meal Delivery
While Medicare plan availability and benefits can vary, there may be Medicare Advantage plans available where you live that cover meal delivery. You can learn more by comparing plans online, including the benefits they cover and the costs for coverage. Or you can call to speak with a licensed insurance agent who can help you compare plan benefits and find a plan that fits your needs.
Freed M, et al. (Nov. 10, 2022). Kaiser Family Foundation. Medicare Advantage 2023 Spotlight: First Look. https://www.kff.org/medicare/issue-brief/medicare-advantage-2023-spotlight-first-look.