Highmark Well being Launches Pilot Program Offering Medically-tailored Meals



Highmark Well being is piloting a brand new program that addresses meals insecurity and can present eligible members with medically-tailored meals, the corporate introduced Monday.

The six-month pilot program goals to assist 1,000 Highmark insurance coverage members with sure power well being situations and who’re at high-risk of meals insecurity. Eligible power situations embody power kidney illness, congestive coronary heart failure, hypertension and diabetes. These members will obtain two medically-tailored meals a day, in addition to teaching and social work to assist them reside a more healthy way of life.

Along with addressing meals insecurity, Highmark’s program will work to scale back different areas of well being inequity as nicely, mentioned Nebeyou Abebe, senior vp of social determinants of well being on the firm.

“After we have interaction the member and understand that they’re meals insecure, we’re additionally assessing for different health-related social wants,” Abebe mentioned in an interview. “This individual might have transportation points or be coping with housing points or home violence. That presents one other alternative for our social employee to have a dialog with a member.”

As this system goes on, Highmark will monitor members’ stage of engagement, in addition to scientific measurements like blood sugar and emergency room visits. Tracy Saula, senior vp of product and well being expertise at Highmark Well being, hopes this system is not going to solely enhance members’ well being, however decrease healthcare prices as nicely. 

“We consider that it might simply lead to clearly improved well being, which is an important,” Saula mentioned in an interview. “But in addition a discount in whole value of care, someplace between 10-16% … Our aim in that is to determine, is that this the type of profit we might present long term?”

There’s a sturdy hyperlink between diet and well being, analysis reveals. People who find themselves meals insecure have a better danger of power ailments, elevated hospitalizations, increased value of care and psychological well being challenges, in line with the Robert Wooden Johnson Basis. Moreover, a latest examine printed in JAMA Community Open discovered that if payers offered medically-tailored meals to sufferers with diet-sensitive limitations, they might save $13.6 billion yearly.

The meals as medication motion has gained momentum just lately, notably after the White Home held a convention in September about meals insecurity. Abebe mentioned Highmark’s new program is in alignment with the White Home’s efforts. Different healthcare organizations addressing meals insecurity and diet embody Kaiser Permanente and Geisinger.

Saula mentioned she hopes Highmark’s initiatives can finally show the good thing about packages that deal with meals insecurity in order that extra healthcare gamers get entangled.

“If you wish to begin to really take into consideration meals as medication and deal with it as such — which suggests insurers paying for it the identical approach an insurer would pay for a diabetic medication — they want proof that it really works,” Saula mentioned.

Photograph: vgajic, Getty Photographs



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