Many Medicare clients qualify for food stamps through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. How can insurance agents coordinate SNAP benefits for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries?
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All health insurance agents help clients secure the primary medical coverage they need. Great agents like you present quality Medicare plans and any additional products, like ancillary, annuities, or long-term care, to create the best bundle of coverage for each client! You can take your exceptional service a step further by informing clients about beneficial programs like SNAP.
Let’s take a look at this program and why it’s important your Medicare clients know about it.
What Is SNAP?
Formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides low-income households with benefits needed to purchase food. SNAP is the largest federal nutrition assistance program in America.
SNAP is the largest federal nutrition assistance program in America.
The program’s benefits allow individuals and families to purchase groceries in authorized retail food stores through an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card. It works just like a debit card, and the benefits are automatically loaded into the recipient’s account each month.
In order to be eligible for SNAP, individuals must meet certain requirements, including resource and income limits. Elderly applicants must be 60 years or older, and disabled individuals must meet one of several criteria. Also, applying for the program is state-specific, as each state has their own application form and process. Determining eligibility can take time and research, which could overwhelm your clients. It could prevent them from applying, despite needing the benefits. This is where you come in.
Determining SNAP eligibility can take time and research, which could overwhelm your clients. This is where you come in.
As their trusted agent, you can help them navigate through the different resources to assess whether or not they’re eligible for SNAP. Offering a bit of your time and assistance could be the difference between your clients having a cupboard full of food or only crumbs. Serving a client to the best of your ability will not only give you a feeling of satisfaction, it can also help you build client loyalty and retention. Happy clients reflect a successful agent!
The next logical question after determining eligibility is, “how long will I receive SNAP?” Once found eligible, individuals receive a notice outlining how long their benefit will last — their certification period. Before the certification period ends, another notice is sent indicating recertification must be completed to continue receiving benefits. Each local SNAP office can provide information about their recertification process. It’s considerate and good business to also be ready and willing to assist clients through their recertification when the time comes.
SNAP for Medicare & Medicaid Beneficiaries
The SNAP program can be extremely beneficial for older adults enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid. A recent study showed that participation in SNAP by older adults dually enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid is associated with fewer hospital visits and lower health care costs. Unfortunately, only 48 percent of older adults who qualify for SNAP are enrolled in the program. This is troubling considering a 2019 report from Feeding America revealed 5.2 million older adults were food insecure that year. With the strain on the economy due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s highly likely this number has increased. Additionally, it’s not uncommon for seniors to live on fixed incomes, so rises in costs of health care, living expenses, and gas (if they drive) can limit their, most likely already tight, budget for food.
Only 48 percent of older adults who qualify for SNAP are enrolled in the program.
It’s important to mention this program to clients whom you believe could benefit from it. Proper nutrition is an essential element to good health and well-being. Some Medicare Advantage plans do offer meal benefits, but they’re limited to the plan beneficiary. SNAP benefits can cover a household, with monthly allotment increases per individual. If a client and those they live with with struggle to buy food, you can help them all by making sure they’re aware of this program.
Applying for SNAP
As mentioned, each state has their own application process for SNAP. Some states have an online application; otherwise, you can contact the state’s local SNAP office to request one. The USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service agency has an extremely helpful SNAP State Directory of Resources. It lists pertinent information for each state, making the initial application process a little easier. Another great aspect of SNAP enrollment is the majority of states feature applications in different languages. Just like Medicare and other plans, you can’t enroll clients in SNAP for them, but you can assist them throughout the process.
The majority of states feature SNAP applications in different languages.
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While selling health insurance, you have the power to positively affect your clients’ lives. Let this article be your resource when discussing and assisting clients with SNAP. It’s filled with the links you need to help clients down the path to enrollment.
Don’t just stop here! Ritter can be your resource too. Gain access to all of our tools and resources within the Ritter Platform by registering with Ritter. It’s free and comes with no obligation. We want you to succeed just as much as you want your clients to thrive and live healthy lives!