Albertsons expands supplemental benefit acceptance

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Albertsons is accepting supplemental benefit payments for more goods.

One of the largest U.S. grocers is significantly increasing the range of products customers can purchase with supplemental benefit payments in its stores.

Albertsons Cos. is now allowing customers to use supplemental benefits to purchase over-the-counter medications and fresh produce in the company’s stores. The new program provides access to customers using pre-paid cards funded by Medicare Advantage plans, employer incentives, healthcare providers, or local governments.

Albertsons has partnered with technology payments platforms, including Solutran S3, to enable eligible cardholders to use their health plan funds to shop for hundreds of eligible fresh produce and over-the-counter products in its stores. Customers can use their pre-paid cards in stores to easily shop for eligible items and make healthier choices.

The grocery giant also accepts Fresh Bucks, a local government supplemental program supported by S3, which launched in Seattle to help consumers afford fruits and vegetables. The company is working to expand programs like Fresh Bucks to more stores.

Albertsons has previously been involved in efforts to expand the accessibility of its products to customers participating in supplemental benefit programs. In 2017, the company took part in a two-year online purchasing pilot with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — a service targeting low-income households.

SNAP, formerly called the Food Stamp program, is supported by state agencies, nutrition educators, and neighborhood and faith-based organizations to ensure individuals eligible for nutrition assistance can apply for the program, make informed decisions, and access benefits.

Available in three of the grocer’s operating divisions in Maryland, Oregon and Washington State, the online pilot enabled SNAP participants to shop online and have their groceries delivered.The pilot, which will run for two years, launched on the online shopping service of Albertsons’ Safeway banner in August 2017. Safeway was one of seven online grocery retail sites to test and implement the service.

[Read more: Albertsons in online program benefitting low-income shoppers]

While Albertsons no longer provides online delivery services for SNAP participants, the company does still accept SNAP EBT payments for online in-store pickup orders.

“We are committed to offering solutions that deliver access to healthy produce and meals, reduce food insecurity and provide solutions for chronic condition management,” said Omer Gajial, executive VP of Pharmacy and Health at Albertsons Cos. “Using supplemental benefits enables shoppers to conveniently shop for fresh food and over-the-counter medications contributing to their overall health and well-being.”

“Albertsons Companies stores are a very popular shopping destination for millions of Medicare Advantage members using the Solutran S3 benefits platform,” said Mike Rahman, president of Solutran. “This year, the platform will issue approximately $5 billion in food and over-the-counter benefits.”

Albertsons Cos. operates stores across 34 states and the District of Columbia with more than 20 banners including Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, Shaw's, Acme, Tom Thumb, Randalls, United Supermarkets, Pavilions, Star Market, Haggen, Carrs, Kings Food Markets and Balducci's Food Lovers Market.