Part A and Part B of Medicare do not typically cover home-delivery services for meals. Part B, which helps pay for the cost of outpatient services, does help cover home health services, but not payment for meals delivered to a home. However, Medicare Advantage (MA) plan beneficiaries may be offered coverage for meal delivery and grocery shopping. Medicare Advantage may be appropriate coverage for those who need groceries or meals delivered to their home.
Why Is Meal Delivery Allowed by Medicare Advantage Plans?
The regulations for Medicare Advantage coverage have been updated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Prior to the updates, Medicare coverage required beneficiaries to meet stricter guidelines to receive meal delivery. However, with the new rules, Advantage plans may cover healthy meal deliveries in certain instances.
The extended coverage from the updates is for services that may:
- Help improve physical function.
- Aid with treating the psychological impact of conditions.
- Treat or prevent injuries or disease.
- Reduce the need for emergency treatment.
Approved services, including meal delivery, should match your health condition and should be doctor-recommended. Providers may recommend meal delivery to help ensure that you receive the nutrition that you need as you recover after a hospital stay. Moreover, doctors may suggest food services for people who suffer from diseases that are heavily impacted by diet, such as diabetes.
Do Those with Medicare Advantage Coverage Always Qualify for Meal Delivery Benefits?
Having Medicare Advantage does not necessarily mean that you have meal delivery benefits. Home meal delivery benefits are considered optional coverage. As a result, some Medicare Advantage plans cover the home delivery of meals, while others do not.
Key Considerations When It Comes to Meal Delivery Service Coverage
When it comes to meal delivery services and Medicare coverage, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Original Medicare does not typically offer meal delivery. The service is usually only covered by Medicare Advantage plans.
- Meal delivery coverage by an Advantage plan is not automatic. You must qualify for this benefit. Specific criteria, such as the diagnosis of a specific health condition, must be met.
- If approved, the meal delivery benefit does not usually cover the service indefinitely. If your Advantage plan does offer a meal delivery benefit, it will likely have a time limit.
Do Medicare Benefits Include Meals During an Inpatient Stay in a Hospital?
Medicare Part A covers meals for a patient in a hospital or skilled nursing facility. Part A coverage does not include meal deliveries from or to other locations.
If someone needs meal delivery coverage, it’s worth considering the purchase of an MA plan. MA plans offer additional benefits that are not included in Medicare Part A and Part B coverage.
If relevant, be sure to select a plan that clearly lists meal delivery as a benefit. Meal delivery services are not covered by all Medicare Advantage plans. Additionally, the benefits associated with meal delivery may only be temporary. Meal delivery is often put in place due to a particular circumstance, like the need to recover after a hospital discharge.