How COVID-19 reshaped Medicare Advantage member views on home-delivered meals

Posted on Monday, November 7, 2022

From increasing hand washing and accelerating the adoption of telehealth services to boosting fitness on demand, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected consumer’s health habits, preferences and buying patterns. Our survey research shows the pandemic also changed Medicare and Medicaid recipients’ attitudes toward health plan benefits, including home-delivered meals.

At the same time, the pandemic magnified some long-standing health care issues in the U.S. including:

  • Growing food insecurity
  • Gaps in the availability of mental health care
  • Lack of steady access to health care in rural areas
  • Inequities in health care

A challenge for health plans

These health care issues, coupled with changing consumer attitudes, are challenging health plans to think differently about benefit design. To better support members with chronic conditions, address food insecurity issues, and help fulfill nutritional needs, many health plans are adding home-delivered meals to their benefits.

Survey results point to home-delivered meals

Members are eager for that offering. A 2020 survey gauged consumers’ attitudes and opinions about home delivered meals and how they changed based on the pandemic. Mom’s Meals commissioned a third party to conduct the survey of Medicare and Medicaid customers with at least one chronic condition.

Survey highlights include:

  • More than half of Medicare respondents would like home-delivered meals as a paid benefit from their health insurance plans
  • Over 1 in 3 Medicare enrollees feel home-delivered meals are more important during/since COVID-19
  • 77% of respondents enjoyed eating healthy meals significantly more than any other condition self-care related activity

Medicare members — a vulnerable population

Home-delivered meals can be particularly important for the vulnerable Medicare population, which is mostly made up of people over age 65. This population was hit the hardest by the pandemic for several reasons. First, they’re more likely to be hospitalized due to COVID-19 because of underlying chronic conditions. This group is also more likely to be food insecure. Why? They face more challenges accessing healthy food due to mobility issues, transportation problems, and budgetary constraints since many live on fixed incomes.

Get insights on adding a home-delivered meals benefit

Help maximize your Medicare Advantage health plan design by incorporating a home-delivered meals benefit. Get more insight on the process by downloading the Mom’s Meals Guide for Medicare Advantage Plan Product Teams: How to Design Food and Nutrition Benefits for 2024.

Our experts at Mom’s Meals® are here to assist you. We work with hundreds of health plans nationwide, including Medicare and Medicaid plans. You can rely on our deep knowledge of legislative policy surrounding nutrition services to populations in need, as well as our passion for improving health outcomes for those we serve.

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