What they are and how to take advantage of the benefits

The subject of healthcare can be a complicated one. No matter if you’re looking for the right doctor or navigating insurance, managing your health can sometimes feel like a part-time job. So, when a program exists that’s not only logical but also accessible, it only makes sense to utilize the benefits. We’re talking here about some of the healthy eating programs that are now part of Medicare Advantage plans. But before we go any further, it’s important to understand the difference between Medicare Advantage and traditional Medicare.

Medicare Advantage

Simply put, Medicare Advantage (also known as Medicare C or MA), is a type of health insurance plan that provides Medicare benefits through a private sector insurer. The plans have been around for roughly 25 years and were brought about as both an alternative to the fee-for-service Medicare plan, and a means for Medicare to benefit from the efficiencies and cost savings achieved in the private sector.

Original Medicare only provides for inpatient hospital services and outpatient treatment (known as Part A and Part B services), causing beneficiaries to purchase supplemental plans for things like dental coverage and prescriptions. Medicare Advantage plans are far more comprehensive. They not only cover Parts A and B, but they can also include a wide variety of other benefits. One such benefit is healthy eating programs, an umbrella term that encompasses various advantages depending on the plan you choose and the state where you live. We’d like to tell you about two types of healthy eating programs currently available in certain Medicare Advantage plans.

Healthy Food Cards

A healthy food card looks and functions pretty much like a standard debit card. The difference is instead of drawing money from your bank account when you use it, it draws from an account set up for you by your insurance company. Depending on the company and the plan, money is put into the account by the insurance company either weekly, monthly or quarterly. Here’s the catch. The card can only be used to buy food. Healthy food to be exact.

What constitutes healthy food? For the most part, it’s foods you already know to be healthy. Fresh fruits and vegetables, meat and fish, eggs and other dairy products, whole grains and nuts, plant-based fats and oil, supplemental drinks and much, much more. The only other catch is that cards can only be used in participating stores. But not to worry, your insurance company will have a list of both national chains and locally owned stores taking part. Once you receive your healthy food card, simply activated it and do some shopping. Head to an approved location, pick up approved products, swipe the card at the checkout counter and save money on your food bill.

If you’re asking yourself why your insurance company would give you money to eat healthy the answer is a simple one. The better you eat, the healthier you will be. The healthier you are will ultimately translate to a lighter load for both your insurance company and the healthcare system in general. That is what you call a win/win situation. To learn more about the benefits of healthy eating and for information about setting up an eating plan that best suits you, be sure to visit MyPlate.gov.

Post Discharge Meal Care Programs

In the spirit of improving your health by eating healthy food, many Medicare Advantage plans now contain meal care programs dedicated to your diet and nutritional needs after you’ve been discharged from a hospital or nursing facility. More simply put. Healthy meals, at no cost to you, delivered to your home while you recover.

If you have been approved for a medically necessary stay at either a hospital or nursing care facility, the goal is always to get you home and on the road to wellness. Aside from following your doctor’s advice, a complete recovery upon being discharged typically depends on rest, relaxation and the proper nutrition. Achieving that trifecta isn’t always easy, even when you’re not recovering from a medical condition. This is exactly why Medicare Advantage plans are stepping in and helping out. The best part – it requires literally no work on your end.

Typically, once you are discharged and back at home a representative from the company providing the meals will contact you. He or she will confirm your address and discuss any dietary restrictions, allergies and food preferences you may have. The representative will also tell you how to store the meals, as well as how to prepare them. At that point, all that’s left is to wait for the meals to arrive.

On average, meals are delivered between 24 and 72 hours of your welcome call. One week’s worth of meals at a time arrive on your doorstep via a 3rd party delivery service. The meals are fully cooked and prepackaged, and everything arrives in a box with cooler inserts, so there is no need to be present for their arrival. All you need to do is properly store them and heat according to instructions once you’re ready to enjoy. If that weren’t enough, most of these programs allow for 2 meals per day for up to 28 days! That’s means no need for you to worry about purchasing food, nor cooking it, for literally one month.

To Your Health

The lesson to be learned here is two-fold. First and foremost, proper nutrition is vital to maintaining your health. The sooner you take control of your dietary habits, the better you’ll feel and the better your chances will be to stay healthy well into the future.

Just as important is understanding there are programs in place that will not only guide your healthy eating but will also make it much more affordable. Be sure to look into the Medicare Advantage plans available in your state. If you are already a beneficiary of one, be sure to inquire about their healthy eating programs. And lastly, here’s to your health.