Medically Tailored Meals

Citation: Berkowitz, S. A., Terranova, J., Hill, C., Ajayi, T., Linsky, T., Tishler, L. W., & DeWalt, D. A. (2018). Meal delivery programs reduce the use of costly health care in dually eligible Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries. Health Affairs, 37(4), 535–542. https://doi.org/10.1377/hlthaff.2017.0999

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Abstract

Delivering food to nutritionally vulnerable patients is important for addressing these patients’ social determinants of health. However, it is not known whether food delivery programs can reduce the use of costly health services and decrease medical spending among these patients. We sought to determine whether home delivery of either medically tailored meals or nontailored food reduces the use of selected health care services and medical spending in a sample of adults dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid. Compared with matched nonparticipants, participants had fewer emergency department visits in both the medically tailored meal program and the nontailored food program. Participants in the medically tailored meal program also had fewer inpatient admissions and lower medical spending. Participation in the nontailored food program was not associated with fewer inpatient admissions but was associated with lower medical spending. These findings suggest the potential for meal delivery programs to reduce the use of costly health care and decrease spending for vulnerable patients.