According to an article in the American Journal of Medicine: nearly one in three U.S. adults with a chronic disease has problems paying for food, medicine, or both. Researchers at Harvard and the University of California at San Francisco studied data from the 2011 U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s National Health Interview Survey.
Of the 10,000 adults who reported a chronic disease such as diabetes, asthma, arthritis, high blood pressure, stroke, a mental health problem, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, nearly one in five struggled to afford food within the last month- this phenomena is often known as "food insecurity". Nearly one in four had skipped taking medication because of cost. More than one in ten said they had problems paying for both food and medication.
The health impact of food insecurity is well-documented. Research studies have found that children who live in a food insecure household are at significant risk of anemia, depression, learning and behavioral problems, and are more likely to be overweight. Among adults, food insecurity is associated with obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes—conditions that are highly influenced by diet. Diabetic adults who struggle with food insecurity are more likely to have erratic blood sugars and to visit the emergency room more often because of low blood sugar. Nutrition researchers explain that difficulty affording food doesn’t result in lower calorie consumption, since processed, higher-calorie foods are typically cheaper than nutrient-rich, perishable foods.
How can we expect people to manage these complex diseases when a third of them can’t afford food, medication, or both? This is why, at Good Neighbor Rx, we value our partnerships with Food Banks across the country. While our users are seeing an average savings of $82 per prescription filled, we understand that need is complex, and that the collective impact of organizations working together can make a meaningful difference.