27 Sep Participation in SNAP Food Assistance Linked To Lower Health Care Costs
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Seth A. Berkowitz, MD, MPH
Division of General Internal Medicine
Diabetes Population Health Unit
Harvard Medical School
Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: There is ever growing pressure to contain healthcare costs in the US. Increasingly, attention is turning to programs that address social determinants of health–that is, those factors which affect health but lie outside the realm of clinical medicine.
Prior research has highlighted food insecurity as having a clear association with poor health and higher healthcare costs. SNAP is the nation’s largest program to combat food insecurity. However, we did not know whether SNAP participation would be associated with any difference in healthcare costs, compared with eligible non-participants.
This study found that participating in SNAP was associated with approximately $1400 lower healthcare expenditures per year in low-income adults.
MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Response: I think this study supports the overall idea of trying to make people healthier by addressing the conditions in which they live.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Response: This was a non-randomized study, so we cannot be sure it was SNAP itself that led to lower costs. Studies that incorporate randomization are an important next step, and I think are justified by the results seen here.
MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.
Berkowitz SA, Seligman HK, Rigdon J, Meigs JB, Basu S. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Participation and Health Care Expenditures Among Low-Income Adults. JAMA Intern Med. Published online September 25, 2017. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.4841
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