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NGA Enables Indies to Accept Healthy Benefit Cards

Online toolkit aids in implementing tech to facilitate their use for groceries, health-related products
Older Couple Buying Fresh Food Main Image
Healthy benefit cards offer a convenient way for eligible individuals to buy groceries and over-the-counter drugs using their health care benefit.

The latest step in the National Grocers Association’s (NGA) mission to make healthy benefit cards accessible in independent grocery stores across the United States is the the launch of an online toolkit featuring resources that will help grocers implement the technology required to accept these payment cards, as well as serving as an ongoing resource for updates regarding the benefit program.

The toolkit provides indies with the knowledge they need to navigate this emerging field and arms them with insights into key stakeholders in this evolving sector when initiating such payments in their stores. It also explores essential topics, among them 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 choosing a point-of-sale provider, conducting staff training for the deployment of a benefit card system, and seamlessly integrating payment technology into existing systems.

[Read more: “NGA Wants Indies Included in Supplemental Health Food Benefit Programs”]

“Healthy benefit card programs underscore the integral role that food plays in overall health,” noted Stephanie Johnson, VP of government relations at Washington, D.C.-based NGA, the trade association representing the independent supermarket industry. “By combining affordability, accessibility and nutritional support, independent grocers can empower individuals to make informed choices about their health and well-being. 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.”

The cards, offered by some private health insurers and Medicare Advantage plans, provide a convenient way for eligible individuals to buy groceries and over-the-counter drugs using their health care benefit. More than 30 million Americans are now enrolled in Medicare Advantage programs, and at least 5 million participants currently 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 key providing a seamless experience for customers. However, many indies are unable to accept these cards because of a lack of communication between their point-of-sale systems and the payment networks.

Earlier this year, NGA wrote an open letter, signed by almost 1,700 independent grocers, to key healthy benefit card stakeholders, urging that the cards be accepted by a wider variety of retailers. Additionally, this past June, the trade organization held a meeting to discuss ways to offer access to healthy benefit cards in high-need communities served by independent grocers.

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