Seeing Ads About Food Cards for Medicare Beneficiaries?
Here’s the scoop on what Medicare ACTUALLY offers!
There are many benefits offered by Medicare to seniors and those with disabilities. Did you know that there is a Medicare food allowance benefit that goes beyond most available programs? It is called the Medicare grocery benefit, or the Medicare food card.
Unfortunately, there are many advertisements, especially TV commercials that hype up an unrealistic benefit amount for the Medicare food allowance. To be clear, the average Medicare Grocery card amount is $150 a month in 2023. Additionally, this is not something that is available to everyone. Last, as a caution, these funds will not roll over from month to month — so if you have this benefit, make sure to use all the funds each payment period. Today we are going to review a few of the plans that offer this benefit so that you have a better understanding of the criteria that need to be met to be eligible.
Plans that Have Grocery Benefits
This incredible resource comes from specific Medicare Advantage plans, including some special needs plans (SNPs) and dual-eligible special-needs plans (D-SNPs).
Special Needs Plans (SNP)
A SNP provides benefits and services to individuals who have specific diseases, health care needs, or who also have Medicaid. Benefits include provider choices, care coordination, and medications that best meet the specific needs in a supported situation.
SNPs are HMO or PPO plan types, and cover the same Medicare Part A and Part B benefits that all Medicare Advantage Plans cover. However, SNPs might also include extra services for the unique needs o the beneficiaries they support. IE: If you have a severe condition that requires a hospital stay, a SNP may cover extra days in the hospital.
Dual Eligible Special Needs Plans (D-SNP)
A D-SNP is for those who qualify for both Medicare AND medical assistance. This combined coverage and added care coordinator access ensures that beneficiaries receive the right care and information without a lot of complication.
You have to be enrolled in Original Medicare before joining Medicare Advantage D-SNP. There are several opportunities for this enrollment including the initial enrollment period around your birthday, the General Enrollment Period from Jan 1 – March 31 and the fall Annual Enrollment Period from Oct 15 – Dec 7.
These benefits are typically intended for individuals with very low incomes typically also qualify for full Medicaid, often referred to as the Qualified Medicare Beneficiary Plus (QMB Plus) program. D-SNP covers everything Original Medicare (Parts A & B) cover and also gives access to full or partial Medicaid benefits.
Income Guidelines for Full Medicaid (QMB Plus) in Tennessee
In Tennessee, the income limits for full Medicaid, including QMB Plus, are determined by the Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) methodology, which is commonly used under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). These guidelines can change so make sure you stay current on offerings.
Generally, to be eligible for full Medicaid in Tennessee, your income must be below a certain percentage of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). For QMB Plus, the income limits are typically more generous than regular Medicaid.
For specific income limits and eligibility criteria in Tennessee, take a look at the Tennessee Medicaid agency online resources to determine if you qualify.
Another program that about only ½ of eligible seniors participate in is called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) offerd by the federal Department of Agriculture. It is considered a bridge to help Tennesseans with the resources they need to be nourished so they may focus on wellness, family, work and school without worrying about where your next meal will come from.
Medicare offers essential healthcare coverage, but it’s important for you to understand that not all benefits apply to everyone. Benefits like this food card program is typically reserved for those with very low incomes who qualify for full Medicaid. Be sure to do your research and verify eligibility so you can avoid potential scams or misleading offers.
Not sure of something? I can help you determine your eligibility and benefits that are applicable to your unique situation. Please feel free to call me at 423-276-5807 or email me at Brenda@gilliaminsuranceadvisor.com.
Brenda Gilliam, Your Insurance Agent, Medicare Insurance Agent & Extra Help Coordinator
* Not affiliated with any government agency.
*We do not offer every plan available in your area. Currently we represent 13 organizations which offer 131 products in your area. Please contact Medicare.gov, 1–800–MEDICARE, or your local State Health Insurance Program to get information on all of your options.