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.
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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.
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.
There may be some additional options available to you for home-delivered meals.
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.
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.
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 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.
Speak with a licensed insurance agent
Christian Worstell is a senior Medicare and health insurance writer with MedicareAdvantage.com. 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 MedicareAvantage.com 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 Mike@tzhealthmedia.com.