Health insurance paid "Food as Medicine"?

For-profit health insurers hate this unless it’s part of a Medicare Advantage scam where few people are able to collect the benefit.

free link:



Nothing stops a person from taking free exercise and dance classes over YouTube and/or Zoom. Not to mention simply taking a walk. The motivation is health. Saying that “the U.S. health care system may get in the way” is typical N.Y. Times negativity – edginess is supposed to capture more eyeballs. But that’s nonsense since the health care system has nothing to do with whether a person exercises.



Goodness gracious, Wendy! You’re saying that folks should take some personal responsibility in their own health decisions? What heresy.


Absolutely. Ms. Wolf and I walk daily and even do 15-20 minutes of swing dancing before dinner (of course, we’re in our 70’s, so I’ll leave it to your imagination what’s actually swinging).

And, we’ve become more careful in our diet, eliminations some foods, eating more fruit & veggies, and even cutting back on quantities (horror of horrors, even dark chocolate). We definitely want to see our grandchildren grow up, but getting old sometimes really sucks.

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Healthy food isn’t free – and some people need coaching. Not everyone is a self-starter. This is just more of that “let them pick themselves up by their bootstraps attitude”, that has put the country in decline for the past 40+ years.

For example, my Part D drug plan fills a lot of cheap, generic prescriptions with no co-pay. I can guarantee you that’s not because Aetna has suddenly gotten a generous heart. They did a study and found if they make the cheap high blood pressure meds “free”, people are more likely to take them, and that saves Aetna money in the long run.

Same thing with these “social prescriptions”. Maybe if you pay for a dance class, people are less likely to get diabetes? I don’t know. Do a double-blind study and find out if that’s true. I’m pretty sure that we’ve found that paying for a smoking cessation program has a positive ROI.

One of the reasons we pay twice as much money for a health care system that kills us 3 years sooner than other large industrial nations is because a large portion of the population is fine with paying extra, as long as poor people and minorities are suffering even more. It’s nuts.



Well, I don’t think it’s so much an issue of “picking them up by their bootstraps” observation as wondering if this is a strategy that will actually work.

I know your link had an opening paragraph suggested that these social prescription programs are popular overseas…specifically Britain…I don’t think you’ll find a tremendous amount of evidence to support their efficacy in the stated goal. As for the concept of testing (although I don’t know how a “double blind study” could be performed with actual food that people are expected to eat voluntarily and in a free living situation) these therapeutic lifestyle interventions have certainly been incrstigated with varying degrees of success.

The study linked in the food as medicine thread the other day looked at this about as closely as is practical. At least superficially. Free “healthy” food and greater intervention didn’t didn’t seem to produce sufficient change in stated outcome to make the exercise look effective.

Getting folk to make dramatic changes to their behaviour…oftentimes to doing things that they really don’t want to do…is a dramatically different proposition to getting them to comply with taking medications (although even that isn’t always easy)


I’m an Eli Lilly shareholder, If “Food-as-Medicine” doesn’t work, I’m fine with selling them Zepbound and Mounjaro.


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