For seniors, getting proper nutrition on a daily basis is of utmost importance. A well-balanced diet helps maintain weight maintenance and provides energy and proper nutrients needed for the body to stay healthy. Eating a balanced, healthy diet can help protect against chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease.
Statistics in the United States show that one out of four Americans over the age of 65 have poor nutritional habits. Many experience malnutrition and are at risk for certain diseases and dangerous conditions like weakened bones and muscles.
The key to a healthy diet after the age of 65 is to consume foods that are high in fiber, vitamins and minerals. And, equally important, to avoid any type of food that is highly processed, full of sugar, has too much salt, or is high in trans or saturated fats. Eating on a schedule and consuming home-cooked meals made from fresh ingredients contribute to maintaining proper nutrition and health.
While the way to proper nutrition may sound simple, it is not always easy for seniors to shop for healthy food or cook at home for themselves. Many family members have constant concern about a loved one living alone in retirement years and not having proper daily meals. This is where meal delivery services can help.
Some meal delivery services provide fresh, hot meals delivered daily, and other services deliver fresh or frozen meals on a weekly basis. Depending on where you live, you may have access to different types of services. Which one works best is based on your needs and preferences. But, does your Medicare insurance cover the expense of meal-delivery?
Medicare Coverage for Meal Delivery
If you only have health insurance coverage through Original Medicare Parts A and B, you may not have coverage for the cost of a meal delivery service. Even though Original Medicare Part B (medical insurance) offers coverage for home health services, this does not generally include meal delivery service or a grocery shopping service.
You may have access to nutrition therapy services through your Medicare Part B plan if you are diabetic, have kidney disease, or if you have undergone a kidney transplant within the previous 36 months. These services are considered preventive services and you do not pay anything for them.
If you have a Medicare Advantage (Part C) insurance policy, you may have benefits that cover services like healthy meal delivery services. Not all Medicare Advantage policies have this coverage because it is categorized as an optional supplemental benefit. If you have a MA plan that does offer this service, you can discuss the details with a licensed representative of your insurance policy provider.
To be eligible for coverage of a meal delivery service with your Medicare Advantage plan, you must have a qualifying health condition or situation. Other requirements for eligibility include:
• Getting recommendation from your health care provider that meal delivery be part of
your medical treatment.
• The type of meals and services must be medically appropriate for your health
• This service must aid in treating an illness or injury, or preventing an illness
• This service must contribute to a reduction in emergency medical care.
• The service must help by treating any psychological effects from an illness or
• The service may compensate for physical problems that reduce function.
Costs of Meal Deliveries
If you do not have Medicare insurance coverage with a Medicare Advantage policy, your costs out-of-pocket for meals delivered to your home vary widely from state-to-state and depend on the types of meals you order. On average across the country, one delivered meal costs around $12.00. If you had a plan that delivered one single main meal for one person, you would pay $84.00 per week.
Having a Medicare Advantage plan that includes coverage for meal delivery can be invaluable if you do not have the ability to prepare meals for yourself. If you are not certain about your policy’s coverage for this type of service, a representative of your insurance company can give you more details.