There are a lot of different factors that go into caring for your health, but certainly two of the largest are healthy eating and choosing one of the best health insurance providers (opens in new tab). In a new scheme, fresh produce subscription service FarmBoxRX (opens in new tab) has combined these two essentials to bring free fruit and vegetables to those enrolled in Vibra Health Plan (opens in new tab)’s Advantage Medicare plan, a Medicare part C plan which also covers Medicare part D prescription drug costs.
This is the first time an insurance company has offered fresh produce boxes to its members, and Pennsylvania-based Vibra Health Plan is providing this service completely free-of-charge in partnership with FarmBoxRX. The owner of FarmBox, Ashley Tyrner, says this move could be pivotal in re-shaping our understanding of and relationship with our food.
“Food is medicine,” says Tyrner (opens in new tab). Elderly medicare patients with illnesses related to diet and lifestyle often find healthy produce inaccessible. The partnership between a fresh food subscription service and insurance provider could help change this, in turn reversing the effects of chronic illness and improving overall health of those benefiting from the scheme.
“Many seniors rely on fixed incomes, which impacts the affordability of fresh produce and healthy eating patterns”
“Most often, elderly patients come home to empty kitchens and return to the hospital malnourished. This project will impact members with diet-related illnesses by positively improving their nutrition and health outcomes with free boxes of life-saving produce.”
Playing the long game
The partnership with Vibra Health Plan could see long-term payoffs for both elderly medicare patients and the insurance company itself. Speaking to The Packer (opens in new tab), Ashley Tyrner said “the average that a healthcare provider spends on a diabetic patient a month is $4,000.
“Shipping patients fruits and vegetables to potentially lower health insurance claims by more than half makes sense.
“Insurance companies are doing this to lower claims costs and our government is actually starting to pay attention.”
This could be a crucial intervention into the cycle of poor health and malnourishment, but for the meantime it's only available to patients living in Pennsylvania, where Vibra Health Plan is based. Time will tell if this sets a trend for insurance companies to follow nationwide.
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