Coverage

Does Medicare Cover Meal Delivery?

Some Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) plans may cover meal delivery as an extra benefit that’s not covered by Original Medicare (Part A and Part B). Learn about potential costs and how to find a plan that may cover home meal delivery.

While Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B) covers meals during an inpatient stay at a hospital or skilled nursing facility, it does not cover meals that are delivered to the home. However, some Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) plans may cover home-delivered meals and some other food-related services. 

What is Medicare Advantage?

Medicare Advantage plans are sold by private insurance companies and cover everything that is covered by Original Medicare. Many Medicare Advantage plans may offer some additional coverage for extra benefits not covered by Original Medicare.

Prescription drug coverage, dental care, vision care and hearing benefits may be offered by many Medicare Advantage plans. Some plans may also cover things like transportation, meal delivery, over the counter (OTC) health items and membership to fitness and wellness programs.

 In fact, 55% of Medicare Advantage plans included a meal benefit in 2021.

When do Medicare Advantage plans pay for meal delivery?

Medicare Advantage coverage varies from one plan to the next, and plan selection varies from one area to another. Some plans may offer more extensive coverage of meal delivery than others, and some plans may not cover the service at all.

Plans that cover meal delivery may partner with Meals on Wheels or other third-party organizations that provide the service. 

One type of meal delivery coverage you might find in a Medicare Advantage plan is for beneficiaries who have been discharged from an inpatient hospital or skilled nursing facility inpatient stay. Such a plan may cover a pre-determined number of meals to be delivered to your home while you are recovering from your hospital stay. The meals may be hot or frozen depending on the coverage and service available. 

You may need to spend a minimum number of days at the hospital or skilled nursing facility to qualify for the coverage. The delivered meals may need to meet certain nutrition standards established by Medicare. Sometimes they meals can be customized to meet certain dietary restrictions like vegetarian or gluten-free.

Some Medicare Advantage Special Needs Plans (SNPs) may be able to offer more extensive meal delivery coverage.

Special Needs Plans include a type of plan called a chronic-care special needs plan (C-SNP). These are Medicare Advantage plans that can be designed with certain chronic health conditions in mind, such as cancer or diabetes.

Some of these plans may offer meal delivery coverage, and an inpatient hospital or skilled nursing facility stay may not always be required to qualify for this benefit. These plans might cover a predetermined number of meals monthly or annually. Coverage can vary, so be sure to speak directly with your plan carrier to learn more about your coverage.

Some Medicare Advantage plans may cover healthy food purchased at a grocery store or meal preparation in your home by a professional. Some Medicare Advantage plans offer some home health care benefits which can include meal preparation or grocery shopping assistance. 

Contact a licensed Medicare insurance agent to find out about any Medicare Advantage plans available in your area that may cover meal delivery.

Other meal delivery resources

There may be some additional options available to you for home-delivered meals. 

Medicaid

Medicaid benefits differ by state but can include coverage of home-delivered meals for qualifying individuals who are homebound and unable to prepare meals on their own. Reach out to your state Medicaid program for more information.

PACE

Some people aged 55 and older qualify for PACE, or the Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly. This program, funded by both Medicaid and Medicare, provides various services to help older adults live safely within their communities, and meal delivery or meal preparation may be an included service in some areas.

ACL

The Administration for Community Living (ACL) connects seniors with a variety of community services, and meal delivery may be among them in some communities. Use the ACL Elder Care Locator to find out about any meal delivery services in your community. 

Meals on Wheels

Meals on Wheels doesn’t have to be covered by a Medicare Advantage plan for beneficiaries to use it. Eligibility rules vary by state, but those who qualify can receive low-cost or even free meals delivered to their home. 

Find Medicare Advantage plans that cover meal delivery.

Speak with a licensed insurance agent

1-800-557-6059

Christian

About the author

Christian Worstell is a licensed insurance agent and a Senior Staff Writer for MedicareAdvantage.com. He is passionate about helping people navigate the complexities of Medicare and understand their coverage options.

His work has been featured in outlets such as Vox, MSN, and The Washington Post, and he is a frequent contributor to health care and finance blogs.

Christian is a graduate of Shippensburg University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He currently lives in Raleigh, NC.

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