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Kroger Debuts Game-Changer for Medicare, Medicaid, Employee Benefit Recipients

Grocer partners with tech startup on Smart Benefits Program to improve access to nutritious food, quality health care services, and more
Marian Zboraj, Progressive Grocer
Kroger Pharmacy
Kroger taps Soda Health to change the face of supplemental health benefits.

Kroger Health is poised to transform the landscape of health care benefits. The health care division of The Kroger Co. has tapped startup Soda Health Inc. to help launch a Smart Benefits program. This program allows participating Medicare Advantage, Medicaid and employer benefits program recipients to receive certain pharmacy, nutrition services and other eligible benefits at Kroger pharmacies, in addition to purchasing eligible food and over-the-counter health items.  

Co-founded by former Walmart executive Robby Knight, Soda Health is a health care technology company that works to change the way benefit dollars are used to improve an individual's health and reduce health inequities. The new Smart Benefits program combines Kroger Health's services with Soda Health's &more platform. The benefit resources funded by insurance plans are accessed through Soda Health's &more debit card to make it easier to purchase nutritious foods and quality health care services at participating retailers. The &more debit card can also be used to pay for transportation for medical appointments or even personal utility bills.  

"The Smart Benefits program within Soda Health's &more platform will provide more people with the tools, and information they need to make better, healthier choices," said James Kirby, chief commercial officer of Kroger Health. "We know food has such a large impact on health outcomes for our customers and patients. By improving access to healthy, affordable food and other health resources, we are working toward truly changing the way America eats." 

[Read more: "EXCLUSIVE: Kroger Enables Consumers to Eat Their Way to Better Health"]

The Smart Benefits program offers personalized health recommendations, including reminders about health screenings, vaccines, prescription refills, and suggestions for medical supplies such as glucose monitors. 

"Together, Soda Health and Kroger Health are enabling localized and personalized health care to customers," said Knight, who is also the CEO of Soda Health. "We chose to collaborate with Kroger Health to share the prominent role that Food as Medicine plays in health care. Through their services, including OptUp and registered dietitians, they are working to empower people to make choices that will impact their overall well-being."

Kroger is indeed creating a health care destination, letting shoppers know that they can get many of their health needs met at the supermarket chain. 

Doug Cornelius, director of pharmacy operations, Kroger Health, mentioned that the company makes accessing health care services much more convenient for busy and distracted people. "People don’t want to have to go to four or five different places to access pharmacy, clinic and laboratory offerings. They want health care where they are, and we are meeting that need for them,” he said.

Cincinnati-based Kroger operates 2,800 retail food stores under a variety of banner names. Kroger Health and the Kroger family of pharmacies and clinics operate more than 2,200 pharmacies and more than 220 clinics in 35 states, serving more than 17 million customers annually. The company is No. 4 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America

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