should health insurers subsidize our veggies?
How much should it cost to eat healthy foods?
One common complaint often heard about healthy food is that it is too expensive. And sometimes this really seems true– but as many of you know by now, we don’t often pay the true cost of our food because of government subsidies for corn and soy monocrops, nor do we pay for the externalities that companies incur while creating our processed foods. And often the argument that long-term benefits of healthy eating outweighs the cost of healthy food in the present doesn’t hold water when people are faced with a tight budget.
But what if the cost of the healthy foods were subsidized by our insurance companies? According to this article from National Public Radio’s food blog, The Salt, “A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine concludes that rebates on healthy food purchases lead to significant changes in what people put in their grocery carts.” The researchers noted a serious change in buying habits of shoppers when the cost of their healthy food items (fruits, vegetables, non-fat dairy) were reduced.
But this is not only good for shoppers, it’s also good for the insurance companies. According to the article, “Some two-thirds of healthcare spending is linked to lifestyle diseases such as obesity, Type-2 diabetes that can be prevented or controlled by healthier diets and lifestyle. So the insurers sponsoring these incentive programs are hoping they’ll help curb future healthcare costs.” While the results of the study are limited at this time, the article notes that, “this new study shows that over the long-term, it may be possible to nudge people towards wellness by consistently making healthy food cheaper.”
Check with your health insurance company and see if they offer any subsidies of this sort; also, check with your employer too- do they offer rebates for healthy lunches or vegetable purchases…?