Payers could save $13.6 billion annually by covering medically personalized meals, study finds - MedCity News

Food as Medicine Platform Season Health announced Wednesday that it is partnering with the HealthAlign marketplace to provide nutrition benefits to Medicare Advantage beneficiaries.

Based in Austin, Texas Seasonal healthThe solution serves people with chronic conditions and provides clinical nutrition care, nutrition recommendations, education and food delivery. It has raised over $37 million in venture capital funding. HealthAlign, also based in Austin, is an aging-in-place marketplace, meaning it is used by payers to provide benefits for in-home services. It is a subsidiary of The Helper Bees, a home health company, and serves all 50 states.

Through the partnership, food and meals will be offered as a service on HealthAlign’s marketplace. Each month, Season Health will provide these services to about 5,500 members of “three of the six largest Medicare Advantage plans” that work with HealthAlign, according to a news release. However, Josh Hicks, co-founder and CEO of Season, declined to name the health plans.

Season Health has three offerings for members: shelf-stable pantry boxes that include items like canned soups, vegetables and grains; grocery ordering where members can order fresh and frozen foods as well as household supplies; and a food-as-medicine package that includes all services offered on the Season Health platform and is designed for people with chronic conditions. For the latter, the member will engage with a seasonal nutritionist and be able to order food and pre-prepared meals on the platform, as well as receive ongoing support, Hicks said.

“Making healthy food available to everyone is the starting point for everything about food as medicine,” he said in an interview. “So for all the members, they have the pantry and the grocery order. For those living with chronic illnesses, they can receive this food package as medicine.

Season chose to work with HealthAlign because of its relationships with payers, which allows the food company to reach more people, Hicks said. It also seeks to improve clinical outcomes, such as achieving a 1.3-point reduction in A1C levels for members with diabetes.

“The clinical goals are the same as always: to help people with chronic disease manage or reverse that chronic disease,” Hicks said. “The business goals are scale and scope…By partnering with HealthAlign, we’re partnering with these very large plans, which serves to drive the volume we can reach and support a large number of members. Through this, we can continue to build the evidence base that these are important benefits.”

In the meantime, HealthAlign hopes to make the process easier for payers in providing nutritional benefits, said Andy Friedel, founder and CEO of HealthAlign. Payers could save $13.6 billion annually through medically personalized meal coverage, a recent study in JAMA Network Open found.

“Our ultimate goal is to connect older adults with nutrition support through the Season Health platform, bypassing many of the key pain points that plans face in implementing nutrition and nutrition benefits, and supporting increased opportunities for chronic disease patients to live well he said in an email.

Other food service companies include GA foods, FarmBox and Epicure.

Photo: vgajic, Getty Images

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