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Medicare Coverage of Meal Delivery Programs for Seniors

The meal delivery program helps about 2,400,000 seniors across the country. Most of these seniors have Medicare health coverage. For the most part, Medicare does not cover meal delivery. Although, Part A does cover your meals while you’re an inpatient at a hospital or skilled nursing facility. There are some options for meal delivery on a temporary basis that will be covered by Medicare.

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Does Medicare Cover Meal Delivery Programs?

For those who qualify, Medicare may organize with the staff to have nutritional meals brought right to your doorstep. Similarly, when returning home from a hospital stay, your healthcare provider may order delivery service for your meals. This order is good for up to four weeks.

People suffering from chronic conditions limiting their ability to feed themselves may qualify for up to 2 weeks (per year) of meal delivery services. If you’re needing meal deliveries, contact your doctor directly to see if you qualify.

Do Medicare Advantage Plans Cover Meal Delivery?

Medicare Advantage plans may cover meal delivery services. But, these services are not permanent, and plans limit what they’ll cover. Individuals will need to meet specific qualifications, before getting coverage.

Does Medicare Cover Meals on Wheels?

Unfortunately no, Medicare does not cover meals on wheels. The good news is, Meals on Wheels won’t deny you meals due to financial reasons.

Meals on Wheels is a wonderful program that’s helping feed many seniors and qualifying individuals who can’t cook for themselves. Annually, this program feeds more than 2.4 million Americans. Delivering to homebound seniors who lack access to a healthy food source or for those who simply, just can’t feed themselves. For individuals that can’t afford to pay for this program, don’t fret. Meals on Wheels isn’t denying anyone service due to financial reasons.

Operating on a sliding payment scale, some of these programs accept food stamps as payment. Each program has its own policy for payment and eligibility requirements. Likewise, some programs are offering extra services such as transportation or pet food delivery.

If this program sounds like it may be beneficial to you, check with your local Meals on Wheels program about qualifying and costs. You can also apply or find a program in your area by visiting the Meals on Wheels website. For most, the requirements for this program are simple.

Qualifying individuals are those who have trouble leaving their homes, are elderly, have a mental and/or physical disability, and are unable to feed themselves.

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Another perk to this program is they also provide meals to group settings, such as local community centers. By doing this, the individuals that can safely leave their homes are joining others to eat their meals together.

Alternative Meal Delivery Programs for Seniors

Other meal delivery programs are available nationwide with similar objectives; wanting to help those who need it most. There may be government or health plan assistance available to your area, for some these services are cost-free or very inexpensive and affordable. Individuals over the age of 65, with disabilities, and/or need help while grocery shopping/preparing meals, should seek alternative programs for meal delivery services.

Medicaid members and members of health insurance plans that cover meals on wheels could qualify for other programs. The Social Security Administration of your state will determine eligibility for Medicaid. However, eligibility is automatic if you’re receiving supplemental security income, work first family assistance, or special assistance (for the blind).

Qualifying due to income must demonstrate that they’re incapable of preparing meals by themselves. This can be because of illness or medical conditions, preventing them from taking care of themselves or those with disabilities or incapacitation.

People without the help of another to prepare their meals or food will also qualify for Medicaid’s home food delivery program. A refrigerator or freezer to properly store your meals is mandatory to receive services.

Medicare and Medicaid recipients should contact their case manager about eligibility and state rules. Your case manager can send authorizations to these companies once they confirm you’re eligible.

A common misconception is that Medicare is free; unfortunately, that’s not the case. But, there are some policies that can help lower costs of care. Also, programs such as Meals on Wheels are an amazing resource for seniors and others who have trouble helping and feeding themselves.

To find supplemental options to work with your Medicare benefits, give us a call. Our agents will collect your health information to find the best Medicare Supplement plan available in your area. You can also use our rates form to see your options now.

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Kayla Hopkins

Kayla Hopkins

Content Editor
Kayla Hopkins is an accomplished writer and Medicare guru serving as the Editor of MedicareFAQ.com. Upon completing her Communications degree from Ohio University, Kayla dedicated her time to understanding the ever-evolving landscape of healthcare. With her extensive background as a Licensed Insurance Agent, she brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her writing.

15 thoughts on "Medicare Coverage of Meal Delivery Programs for Seniors"

  1. Good Morning,
    My 84 year old Dad is unable to Drive, Dr.s orders, due to he is on a heart monitor; possible a pace maker to be implanted soon. My 80 year old Mom is in need of a knee replacement surgery (and she has not been driving her car) which she will be undergoing soon; and she is the one who cooks all meals and struggles with standing to do so. They are both on Medicare. Would they qualify for Meals on Wheels to deliver one meal a day until they get over their medical situations.

    1. Hi Lisa, Meals on Wheels is a great option for your parents. Qualifications vary in each state, so I recommend contacting your local Meals on Wheels location for eligibility requirements.

  2. I am 90 yrs. old, my wife is 86 and legally blind. We are on food stamps.
    do we or can we qualify for free food on “meals on wheels”.

    1. Hi Gary – thank you for reaching out. The best course of action would be to contact your local Meals on Wheels program.

  3. I have active cancer, kidney failure and PTSD. I spent Thanksging alone and had no dinner. The day before, I called 911 as I was really sick. The EMTs did NOTHING. Didn’t even come inside with a medical bag. Never took vitals….nothing. They left without me. Thanksgiving…I couldn’t cook so I ate an orange. My brother gets FREE cooked meals daily, delivered, and he’s not even sick. Tired of social services not doing their jobs or Medicare caring about anyone. Ambulance that came was from GAVAC of Amsterdam NY. Made formal complaint to Medicare and Mgr. of GAVAC. I’ve heard NOTHING.

  4. I am being sent home from the hospital after 5 day stay and it was mentioned to me about Meals on Wheels and I was wondering if I qualify for the help. If you need medical insurance I have Humana. Please let me know if you can help me out for a little while. Thank you!

    1. Hi Angela – you should contact your local Meals on Wheels to find out more about whether you qualify for the service, or visit their website.

  5. Trying to get meal delivery for my mother as she was just discharged from rehab snd is in need of delivery of meals. I am her Daughter and haven’t a clue as to how to get this started??? SHE IS 95 years old… can you direct me as to how to go about getting her nutritious meals???

    1. Hi Jerrie! Yes, your local SHIP department can help you. They are a free resource center for seniors that’s specific to your state. They can provide you information on local meal deliveries in her area. That is where I would start for sure! I hope this helps.

  6. I’m having trouble getting to the food market, can you advise me on something in my town.


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