- Albertsons announced last week it has started working with fintech company FIS, which has supplemental health benefits administrators including Fresh Connect, PayForward and WEX on its payment platform, and is starting to accept benefit cards from Soda Health, which has tailored benefits for individual needs.
- Customers with FIS and Soda Health-integrated benefit cards will now be able to buy eligible food and health items at the grocer’s banners including Safeway, Albertsons, Jewel-Osco, Vons, Shaw’s, Tom Thumb and Acme.
- These new tie-ups grow Albertsons’ list of benefit card partnerships and also tie into the grocer’s pledges to tackle hunger and elevate healthy eating.
The expansion of the health benefits cards and work to make nutritious food more accessible comes at a time when the grocery company is looking to merge with Kroger. Both grocers have positioned the merger as an opportunity to better provide “fresh, affordable food for everyone” in the U.S., along with other professed benefits.
Albertsons, which operates nearly 2,300 grocery stores across more than a dozen banners, had previously turned to health benefits cards, which are pre-paid debit cards funded by Medicare Advantage plans, employers, healthcare providers or local governments so users can buy eligible over-the-counter medicine and wellness care products, as well as healthy food. Albertsons already had benefit card providers Solutran’s S3 retailer network, InComm’s OTC Network and Speak among its partnerships roster, per the announcement.
“Expanding our benefit card partnerships are essential in ensuring that our customers have access to the broadest selection of nutritious food, supplements and OTC medicine that improve their health and well-being,” Omer Gajial, executive vice president of pharmacy and health at Albertsons, said in a statement.
Albertsons said that customers who participate in SNAP and WIC can also use health benefit cards alongside their EBT account.
While interest in health benefits cards is not new in the grocery industry, — Giant Eagle, for example, joined InComm Healthcare’s OTC Network in 2019 — it appears to be growing as health services like food prescriptions proliferate. Last year, Giant Food and Stop & Shop teamed up with Boston-based nonprofit About Fresh, which lets participants of its Fresh Connect program use prepaid debit cards to purchase fresh food “prescribed” by healthcare providers.
Albertsons noted that its Albertsons Companies Foundation pledged to reduce food insecurity through its Nourishing Neighbors program by boosting fresh produce and healthy food availability in food banks, soup kitchens and community organizations. Albertsons and its foundation are also aiming to help 50,000 people enroll in SNAP and WIC benefits this year.
“We are striving to be more than just a neighborhood grocery store; we want to build a deeper connection with our customers, support them in their wellness journey and address hunger in our most vulnerable communities,” Gajial said about the expanded health benefits cards partnerships.