How 4 Health Plans Are Taking Innovative Approaches To Addressing Food As Medicine

Nutrition’s role in better health outcomes (both physical and mental) and potential cost savings is spurring increased innovation within the healthcare sector. Providers are increasingly interested in how to best connect their patients to quality food, which means that health plans are figuring if (and how) they will reimburse for increasing nutrition security. Here are four examples of payers taking an innovative approach to their nutrition benefits.

Blue Cross Blue Shield North Carolina

Blue Cross Blue Shield North Carolina has implemented specific pilot programs to address food insecurity and increase access to better nutrition. The company is partnering with various state organizations to increase enrollment in Food and Nutrition Services and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Members in these pilot programs will have access to nutrition counselors and Eat Well, a prescription food program that gives a monthly stipend to help members buy healthy foods.

In addition, Medicare Advantage members can be enrolled in a post-discharge meal program, offering personalized nutrition services after a hospital stay while Medicaid members are provided a three-month coverage of fruits and vegetables.

Humana

To successfully implement their home-delivery meals, Humana has partnered with Mom’s Meals. Under the Humana Well Dine Chronic Condition Program, eligible patients receive 10 meals of their preference post-discharge. Additionally, patients that are eligible for the chronic conditions program receive 20 meals that support the dietary needs of their chronic condition.

UnitedHealthcare

As part of their ongoing goal to emphasize healthy nutrition, UnitedHealthcare, developed a dual health plan for members who qualify for both Medicaid and Medicare. To promote nutrition, the plan provides members with a prepaid debit card that covers the cost of any qualifying healthy food purchase. Additionally, UnitedHealthcare is partnering with various grocery chains to provide healthy food resources to homebound members. Deliveries are made twice weekly and include shelf-stable groceries or meal kits.

Anthem Blue Cross

Starting in 2020, the Anthem Blue Cross began to expand its home delivery meal program, partnering with Mom’s Meals and Project Open Hand, to help address food insecurity. During the first five months of the program, before the COVID-19 pandemic, over 37,000 medically tailored meals were delivered to individuals. With the exasperated food insecurity problem, Anthem is aiming to expand its resources and continue to support its members that are in greatest need.

Understanding how food fits into prevention can help providers keep their patients healthy and reduce risk of chronic disease. Not only does this help patients and providers, but payers can potentially save costs by preventing downstream services. Stakeholders looking to take a bold approach in their offerings should incorporate nutrition into their strategy for improving care for the populations they serve.

Leavitt Partners continues to track innovations that impact the healthcare industry’s ability to provide accessible, effective, and sustainable care. Subscribe to our blog or contact us if you’re interested in continuing the conversation about this intelligence.