NGA Unveils Online Toolkit to Help Grocers Accept Healthy Benefit Cards

The National Grocers Association (NGA) launched an online toolkit with resources that help grocers implement the technology required to accept healthy benefit cards and be an ongoing resource for updates about this benefit program.

These payment cards, offered by some private health insurers and Medicare Advantage plans, provide a convenient way for eligible individuals to purchase groceries and over-the-counter drugs using their healthcare benefits.

More than 30 million Americans are now enrolled in Medicare Advantage programs, and at least five million participants receive hundreds of dollars on healthy benefit cards through their health plan.

For independent grocers, understanding and implementing the necessary payment technology to accept these cards is essential for providing a seamless experience for customers. But many independent retailers have been unable to accept these cards due to the lack of communication between their point-of-sale system and the payment networks.

The NGA toolkit serves as a comprehensive resource to support independent community grocers with the knowledge they need to navigate this emerging field and equip retailers with insights into key stakeholders in this evolving sector when initiating these payments in their stores.

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Additionally, the toolkit delves into essential topics, such as comprehending system requirements, the transaction fees involved, understanding the intricate relationship between Medicare Advantage plans and payment networks, establishing the necessary technological infrastructure, making informed decisions when selecting a POS provider, conducting staff training for the deployment of a benefit card system, and seamlessly integrating payment technology into existing systems.

“Healthy benefit card programs underscore the integral role that food plays in overall health. By combining affordability, accessibility, and nutritional support, independent grocers can empower individuals to make informed choices about their health and well-being,” said Stephanie Johnson, NGA vice president of government relations. “NGA is pleased to facilitate the process of accepting healthy benefit cards for independent retailers so consumers in their communities most in need of assistance can take advantage of this useful program.”

Earlier this year, the National Grocers Association penned an open letter, signed by nearly 1,700 independent grocers, to key healthy benefit card stakeholders, urging that a wider variety of retailers accept the cards.

In June, the association hosted a meeting to discuss solutions for providing access to healthy benefit cards in high-need communities served by independent grocers.

NGA continues to work with stakeholders to expand access to these benefits, fight for reduced costs for retailers and drive the conversation about the future of healthy payments.