Nutrition assistance linked to lower healthcare spending
Participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can lead to decreased healthcare claims and out-of-pocket costs for low-income adults, according to a JAMA Internal Medicine study.
SNAP is a program offered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service that provides nutrition assistance benefits for individuals and families who meet certain low-income, resource, or disability requirements. Participants are often eligible to receive money they can spend toward groceries such as bread, produce, meat, and dairy.
The study examined more than 4,400 adults whose income was below 200% of the federal poverty threshold. Researchers analyzed participants’ 2012–2013 healthcare expenditures and found that SNAP enrollment was associated with lower healthcare costs among individuals involved in the study. The study concluded that participation in SNAP or similar programs that ease food insecurity could reduce healthcare costs nationally.
Hospital case managers and social workers are often tasked with connecting patients with community resources such as SNAP prior to discharge. Recognizing special considerations among patients, such as income restrictions, lack of transportation, or disability, is critical to ensuring patients are safely discharged back to the community with the resources they need. Assisting patients with applying for or connecting with local and national resources that can improve their quality of life can be time consuming, but is essential to the role of case managers and social workers.