- Online grocery provider Shipt is offering free grocery delivery to customers in partnership with WellCare, a company that provides government-sponsored managed care services to patients in the U.S., according to a press release.
- The free grocery delivery will be available for the remainder of 2020 to Medicare Advantage members who have low incomes or special needs, providing an important service for safety and convenience during COVID-19.
- The companies said the benefit is available to more than 200,000 members in 23 states, based on eligibility.
COVID-19 has created additional barriers for vulnerable populations, affecting both medical and non-medical needs. Shipt’s collaboration with WellCare is intended to address the issue of access to food and essentials as well as transportation, the online grocery provider said.
The program allows Shipt to gain exposure to more households and may bode well with consumer sentiment, particularly during the pandemic when many seniors may not feel safe in a grocery store but can't afford steep grocery delivery prices.
Many of those who are eligible for the benefit through Medicare Advantage already face health issues or income concerns, and WellCare’s goal is to make sure these families and individuals can still get the food and supplies they need while staying safe and healthy.
Across the U.S., retailers have prioritized seniors, those with health conditions and other vulnerable populations during the pandemic. While many have offered special shopping hours or blocks of time reserved for pickup, other efforts have come into play as well. Some of the initiatives include H-E-B’s seniors-only delivery service and Raley’s pre-packed seniors essentials bags. The city of West Hollywood has also started a free grocery delivery program to seniors and those with disabilities.
Traditionally, Medicare recipients have been eligible for meal delivery programs like Meals on Wheels, but free grocery delivery isn’t a common benefit given the costly last-mile associated with e-commerce. Amazon offers a discounted Prime membership for Medicaid patients and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients, and Walmart, ShopRite, Kroger and Amazon also all allow people to use their SNAP benefits to buy groceries online.