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Does Medicare Cover a Grocery Benefit?

Some Medicare Advantage plans may offer grocery benefits and over-the-counter coverage that pays for health items. Learn more about Medicare Advantage plans, the extra health benefits some plans may offer and how to find out what if Medicare grocery benefits are available where you live.

Medicare provides health care coverage for older adults and those with qualifying disabilities. And you might be surprised to know that some Medicare plans may offer a grocery benefit. 

While Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B) doesn’t include a grocery benefit, Some Medicare Advantage plans (also known as Medicare Part C) may offer grocery benefits, flex cards that can be used for healthy items or other similar over-the-counter (OTC) benefits.

In 2023, 71% of Medicare Advantage plans include a meal benefit as part of their coverage.1

Medicare Advantage plans are required to cover everything Original Medicare covers, and many plans offer extra benefits that aren’t covered by Part A and Part B. It’s important to note these benefits aren’t available with all plans, and some or all of the plans in your area may not offer a grocery benefit.

Request a free plan quote online or call to speak with a licensed insurance agent to find out if plans where you live cover extra benefits such as coverage for groceries.

What is a grocery benefit?

A grocery benefit is a type of health insurance plan benefit that provides a monthly, quarterly or annual allowance for purchases of approved foods. The list of approved foods can vary from one plan to another but may include meats, fruits, vegetables, water, dairy products and more. Approved foods generally have to meet a minimum standard of nutrition. 

The allowance amount will also vary from plan to plan. Allowances typically do not carry over from one month, quarter or year to the next, though individual plan rules may vary.

What is the healthy food card?

Medicare Advantage plans with a grocery benefit may issue a “healthy food card” to members. The healthy food card is a debit card with the allowance amount pre-loaded and ready for use.

A healthy food card might come with use restrictions or a list of approved retailers that may vary with each plan but often includes Walmart, Food Lion, CVS, Walgreens, Kroger and more. 

What is an OTC Medicare card?

An over-the-counter (OTC) card can work like a healthy food card, but it can be used to purchase over-the-counter health products like medications, personal hygiene items, braces, Band-Aids and many other things you’ll find in the pharmacy section of a grocery store. These cards are sometimes called a Medicare flex card.

Some OTC cards may be used at a physical store location. Other plans with over-the-counter benefits may use an online catalog or order form. 

A Medicare Advantage plan might offer both a grocery benefit and an OTC benefit with separate cards for each. Some plans might combine both benefits under one card. Other plans might include one benefit but not the other. 

OTC cards will also have allowance amounts, usage times, and approved items and retailers that vary from one plan to the next. 

What extra benefits can I get from Medicare?

While the benefits listed below aren’t available with all Medicare Advantage plans or in all locations, you may be able to find plans where you live that offer similar coverage. Some of the benefits below may require coinsurance or copay costs and be subject to a deductible, depending on your plan.

Home-delivered meals

Some Medicare Advantage plan beneficiaries who have recently been released from a hospital or skilled nursing care facility can have ready-to-eat meals delivered to their home as a benefit of their plan.

Coverage is generally valid for a certain number of days or meals, but some Special Needs Plans may provide year-round coverage for beneficiaries with chronic conditions. Meals on Wheels and other home delivery services often partner with Medicare Advantage plans as part of these benefits. 


Some Medicare Advantage plans may cover non-emergency medical transportation to doctor’s appointments, pharmacies and other approved locations. Some plans partner with ride-sharing services like Uber or Lyft to provide the benefit while others will cover the cost of a taxi ride or public transportation.

In 2023, 43% of Medicare Advantage plans cover transportation.1

Fitness and wellness programs

The vast majority (99%) of Medicare Advantage plans offer some type of fitness or wellness benefit in 2023.1 A Medicare fitness benefit may often include free membership to a gym or fitness and wellness program like SilverSneakers.

Home health care

Some Medicare Advantage plans may offer expanded coverage of home health care services such as skilled nursing care provided in the home, physical and occupational therapy and more.

14% of Medicare Advantage plans cover in-home support services in 2023.1

Home modifications

Some Medicare Advantage plans may cover home modifications to help you age in place such as bathroom safety devices, the installation of wheelchair ramps and more.

How do I find Medicare Advantage plans?

Request a free online plan comparison or call to speak with a licensed insurance agent and find out which – if any – Medicare Advantage plans available in your area include a grocery benefit or Medicare flex card. You can also read our Medicare enrollment guide for more information on when and how to enroll.

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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.

Christian has written hundreds of articles for 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.

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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1. Freed M, et al. (Nov. 10, 2022). Medicare Advantage 2023 Spotlight: First Look. ​Kaiser Family Foundation.