Pittsburgh-based Highmark Health is launching a pilot program to address food insecurity among Highmark insurance members suffering from chronic health conditions.
Research has shown that people who are food-insecure may be at an increased risk for a variety of negative health outcomes. The Medically Tailored Meals program aims to supply meals to approximately 1,000 Highmark-insured members with qualifying chronic health conditions and who are at high risk for food insecurity. Eligible members will receive two medically tailored meals per day for up to one year. Members enrolled in the pilot program will also receive regular education and coaching from a Wellness Coach and social worker to address food insecurity and manage long-term health related social needs.
“Food insecurity among adults has been found to be associated with depression and adverse mental health conditions, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, and poor sleep outcomes,” said Nebeyou Abebe, senior vice president of social determinants of health at Highmark Health, in a statement. “By providing healthy meals and wrapping additional care around these members, we believe this program will make a significant difference in their overall health and well-being.”
Research also suggests that solving food insecurity can result in a reduction in the total cost of care driven by decreased inpatient and emergency department utilization.
“To build a health ecosystem that works better for everyone, we must tackle challenges across physical, mental, and social health,” added Tracy Saula, senior vice president of product and health experience at Highmark Health, in a statement. “While social barriers alone can obstruct the path to better health, managing chronic conditions adds even more complexity. Highmark’s Medically Tailored Meal program is an example of our Living Health Strategy in action, and creates a simpler, more personalized experience for members.”
Highmark members who screen positive for food insecurity and have a metabolically linked chronic condition, including chronic kidney disease, congestive heart failure, hypertension, and/or diabetes may be eligible for the program. Members who believe they may qualify can call the number on the back of their insurance card and ask to speak with a Wellness Coach. Callers will be asked to answer a series of health questions and must receive health insurance through their qualifying employer to be eligible.