NGA Unveils Online Toolkit to Help Independent Grocers Accept Healthy Benefit Cards

August 15, 2023

Resource offers guidance for implementing technology essential to facilitating use of healthcare benefits for groceries and health-related products

Washington, D.C. – Healthy benefit 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 benefit. More than 30 million Americans are now enrolled in Medicare Advantage programs, and at least 5 million participants are currently receiving 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.

To that end, the National Grocers Association (NGA), the trade association representing the independent supermarket industry, is launching an online toolkit today with resources that will help grocers implement the technology required to accept these payment cards, as well as be an ongoing resource for updates about this benefit program.

The online toolkit can be accessed here.

The NGA toolkit serves as a comprehensive resource to support independent community grocers with the knowledge they need to navigate this emerging field as well as equip retailers with insights into key stakeholders in this evolving sector when initiating these payments in their stores. 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, NGA penned an open letter, signed by nearly 1,700 independent grocers, to key healthy benefit card stakeholders, urging that the cards be accepted by a broader variety of retailers. In June, the association hosted a meeting to discuss solutions for providing access to healthy benefit cards in high-need communities being served by independent grocers.

This is just the latest step in NGA’s work to make healthy benefit cards accessible in independent grocery stores around the country. 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.


Additional Media Resources

Healthy Benefit Card Toolkit:

About NGA

Washington, D.C.-based NGA is the national trade association representing the retail and wholesale community grocers that comprise the independent sector of the food distribution industry. An independent retailer is a privately owned or controlled food retail company operating a variety of formats. The independent grocery sector is accountable for about 1.2 percent of the nation’s overall economy and is responsible for generating more than $250 billion in sales, 1.1 million jobs, $39 billion in wages and $36 billion in taxes. NGA members include retail and wholesale grocers located in every congressional district across the country, as well as state grocers’ associations, manufacturers and service suppliers. For more information about NGA, visit