Why recipe content has benefits for health insurance providers and members
With more people cooking at home than ever before and focus shifting towards healthy eating after a tough year during which many of us turned to comfort food, now is the ideal time for health insurers to consider the benefits of recipe content for both health insurance companies and members.
The concept of 'food as medicine' is not new, but it is only more recently that it has been adopted more widely by the medical community as part of a more holistic 'lifestyle medicine' treatment approach. Health insurers understand the value of food as medicine too, with many including food coverage for those with health conditions such as diabetes in their plans. As a starting point, it provides real value to health insurance customers, but there are opportunities to take this strategy a step further.
What are the benefits of recipe content for health insurance members?
Nutrition is a confusing topic for many people. Choosing food and diet plans that work for a specific health concern isn't always easy and the amount of freely available information online can be overwhelming. It's difficult to know which sources people should trust, particularly when it comes to the nutritional make up of a recipe. 55% of consumers consider their primary grocery retailer an ally in their wellness efforts. It makes sense that grocery retailers are seen as food experts by their customers but health insurance companies are arguably better placed to offer food and nutrition guidance. According to a survey commissioned by Pollock Communications and Today's Dietitian, medical doctors and health experts are amongst consumers' most trusted sources of nutrition information.
By offering carefully curated recipe content, health insurers can add true value for people and become a trusted source of health-based recipes. For 52% of people, deciding what to have for dinner is the most difficult part of the meal planning process. Add in a specific health concern and an online recipe search doesn't always cut it. Health insurers can add true value by creating a central hub for recipe content that can be filtered by health concern, dietary requirement and budget or by offering tailored e-cookbooks. Budget is an important factor here since planning nutritionally balanced meals on a budget isn't always intuitive but 60% of Registered Dietitian Nutritionists predict greater demand for foods and beverages that are affordable and value-based as the year progresses.
For those who have been diagnosed with a particular health condition, recipe content from their trusted health insurance provider offers the guidance and confidence they need in order to choose the right foods. Since health insurance companies are already offering food coverage for people with specific health conditions or lower incomes, it makes sense to combine this with recipe content, improving members' health and providing vital food and cooking education.
What are the benefits of recipe content for health insurance companies?
Any additional benefit added to a health insurance plan has a cost associated with it, but adding branded recipe content, tailored e-cookbooks and food coverage as a benefit could actually save health insurance companies money in the long-term. Health insurance providers already know the benefits of using food as medicine.
We’ve seen time and again, the lack of good and nutritional food causes members to get readmitted
Ananth Lalithakumar, Oscar Health
When a person follows a diet that is relevant to their health needs, their overall health can improve and their need for treatment can reduce. One health insurance member told ABC News that food deliveries and nutritional advice from her health insurance company meant she could reduce the blood pressure medication she was taking. By taking the 'lifestyle medicine' approach, this initial investment in her diet by the health insurance company meant a more long term decrease in the money spent on medication.
A team from Tufts University and Brigham and Women's Hospital mapped out the potential health and cost outcomes of food as medicine and the results were staggering. Moderate increases in fruit, vegetable, whole grains, nuts, seeds, seafood and plant oils consumption would prevent about 3.28 million cardiovascular disease event, 120, 000 cases of diabetes and save $100.2 billion in healthcare costs.
Some health insurance companies have gone down the route of sending pre-prepared, nutritionally-balanced meals to their members. While this approach benefits many people for a variety of reasons, sharing recipe content and covering the cost of groceries for those who use these recipes has long-term benefits. By teaching a health insurance member to cook using healthy recipes that are tasty and relevant to their health goals and conditions, health insurance companies can give members the confidence to cook more often at home, reducing the need to turn to highly-processed, unhealthy alternatives. This has the potential to reduce treatment and medication claims long-term.
Finally, adding recipe content as a benefit for health insurance members helps health insurance providers build a reputation as a company that takes a holistic approach to health. This not only gives existing members a compelling reason to renew their health insurance with that company in the future, it also gives them a reason to recommend the company to friends and family, increasing brand awareness and sign-up rates.
Consumers have never had more access to health and nutrition information, but they've also never required more guidance when making nutrition decisions for themselves and their families. Add in an increased demand for personalisation and opportunities for health insurance companies to engage with their members through healthy recipe content become hard to ignore.