Addressing Hunger in Medicare and Medicaid Populations During the Pandemic
When we think about barriers to living a healthy life, we often do so in the context of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Access to adequate nutritional food is a primary physiological need and one which people will naturally prioritize above other, less immediate and powerful concerns. The Coronavirus pandemic has upended careers, support systems, and lives. In many instances this has resulted in families lacking adequate nutritional food.
Last week, President Biden signed an executive order expanding the Food Stamp benefits given to families in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. For a family of three, the increase will be around $52/month. The Biden administration is further seeking to increase the number of SNAP recipients who also receive these emergency nutrition benefits. Finally, the administration is seeking to extend the emergency EBT benefits that families struggling through the pandemic are facing. According to the Biden administration, one out of every seven US household struggles with inadequate food.
At BeneLynk, we are big believers in the SNAP program. That is why, in all of our Community Lynk interactions, we screen Medicare Advantage members for SNAP eligibility and, where appropriate, initiate the application with the member over the phone. SNAP participation among eligible senior households has been estimated to be as low as 41%. These immensely valuable benefits are under-utilized by far too many Medicare Advantage members. As with most benefit programs, one of the primary barriers to participation is awareness of the program itself.
When we “lead with help” at BeneLynk, we start our onshore agent member conversations by asking the member about challenges they might be facing. Our Advocates are empowered to assist our members with access to over 150,000 benefit programs — but SNAP is always near the top of the list. Our clients know that ensuring that members have access to healthy food is one of the most impactful actions a Medicare Advantage plan can take to remove SDoH barriers. By providing their members with professional assistance to meet this challenge, Medicare and Medicaid plans not only can produce better health outcomes, and improve long-term member retention, but also improve the lives of their members in a meaningful way.
We applaud the efforts to broaden the SNAP/EBT benefits, particularly for seniors facing food insecurity in the midst of the pandemic. Our hope for our clients, and for Medicare Advantage and managed Medicaid plan members broadly, is that more eligible households take advantage of these valuable benefits.
Do you want to learn more about how BeneLynk can help your members through the pandemic? Contact us today at Sales@BeneLynk.com