WEDNESDAY, Oct. 26, 2022 (HealthDay News) — For individuals with diet-sensitive conditions, implementation of medically tailored meals (MTMs) could potentially avert about 1.6 million hospitalizations and yield net savings of $13.6 billion annually, according to a study published online Oct. 17 in JAMA Network Open.

Kurt Hager, from Tufts University in Boston, and colleagues created a population-level cohort policy simulation model that estimated changes in annual hospitalizations and health care expenditures associated with coverage of MTMs in an economic evaluation conducted from January 2021 to February 2022. Participants included 6,309,998 U.S. adults with Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurance and at least one diet-sensitive condition and one limitation in instrumental activities of daily living.

The researchers found that if all eligible individuals received MTMs, in one year, an estimated 1,594,000 hospitalizations and $38.7 billion in health care expenditures could potentially be averted. The program costs were $24.8 billion, resulting in net savings of $13.6 billion from a health care perspective. Ten years of the MTM intervention was expected to cost $298.7 billion and would potentially avert 18,257,000 hospitalizations and yield reductions of $484.5 billion in health care expenditures, for $185.1 billion net savings. In multiple sensitivity analyses, findings were robust.

“These findings may inform increasing state, federal, and private-payer interest in implementing ‘food is medicine’ interventions such as MTMs to address diet-related chronic illness in the U.S.,” the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the biopharmaceutical, medical technology, and other industries.

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