Nearly a Quarter of Medicaid Members Don’t Have Access to Food Support Programs

Another 20% of Medicaid members say they aren't sure if their plan offers such programs, according to a recent Icario and Harris poll.

Nearly 44% of Medicaid members either don't have access to food support programs they need through their plan (23%) or are not sure if they do (20%), according to a recent survey that examines food insecurity and Americans' barriers in accessing healthcare services by Icario, a health action company, and the Harris Poll.

Among over 4,000 Americans and over 500 Medicaid members who participated, the survey also revealed a food support gender disparity among Medicaid members. This disparity includes 50% of male Medicaid members saying they have access to food support through their insurance plan, while just 39% of female members say the same. Food access has been particularly challenging during COVID-19—data from Kaiser Family Foundation found that 23% of Medicaid adults reported food insufficiency during the pandemic.

“Our latest research shows there is a massive opportunity for Medicaid plans to do better from a communication standpoint when it comes to educating members about the food support programs available to them,” said Sara Ratner, Senior Vice President of Government Markets and Strategic Initiatives at Icario. “The data reinforces how it is universally more difficult for Medicaid members to access programs and services, but improved engagement strategies can help minimize some of the population's challenges.”

Among other findings: 61% of Medicaid members cite technology as a barrier to care access, compared to 44% of those with employer-sponsored health plans and 47% of those with Medicare. Additionally, Medicaid members who have children and/or are married face even more significant barriers to care, including cost, provider access, transportation and language.

“Medicaid members face a variety of disparities, and the challenge for health plans is to help individual members close those gaps,” said Steve Wigginton, CEO of Icario. “Leveraging our platform and multi-channel approach, health plans can identify member needs, communicate value-added benefits in real-time and improve the overall experience and health outcomes of their members.”