Small Intervention, Big Impact

Health Care Cost Reductions Related to Medically Tailored Nutrition

What happens when people living with chronic illnesses have access to home-delivered, medically tailored meals?

Since Project Angel Heart was founded in 1991, we’ve heard from our clients, their caregivers, and their doctors that receiving our meals improves their health. These stories have long led us to believe that food is medicine, and that addressing social determinants of health like access to nutritious food can decrease health care costs for recipients.

Now, we have data that shows this impact. Using medical claims data from the Colorado All Payer Claims Database, we conducted a research study to examine the health care costs of Project Angel Heart clients before, during, and after they received meal deliveries. Here’s what we learned:

Medically tailored meals led to a 13% decrease in the rate of hospital readmissions

The average cost of a hospital readmission is $13,430, so this reduction has the potential to cause significant savings!

Total medical costs for people with CHF, COPD, and diabetes decreased by 24%

These clients saw the greatest reductions in total costs while receiving meals, with statistically significant savings ranging from $416/month to $736/month.

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Clients spent less on hospital stays while receiving meals

We have long theorized that delivering medically tailored meals helps keep people out of the hospital, and that appears to be true for those living with CHF, COPD, diabetes, and ESRD.

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So, what now?

Based on what we’ve learned from our research, we recommend integrating medically tailored, home-delivered meals into health care delivery and payment models. Research shows that the right food and nutrition—especially medically tailored meals—lead to improved health outcomes for people with chronic illness, so they should be considered standard part of treatment by health care providers and insurance providers alike.

Resources

Read the full white paper

Download a two-page summary of the research

Watch a webinar about the research design & results

Questions? Please contact Rachael Robinson, director of strategic partnerships