Food insecurity has been associated with a number of negative health outcomes in both the short and long-term, yet the impact of changes in government nutritional assistance programs on healthcare expenditures has not been well documented. Nationally, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the main program to help alleviate food insecurity, providing benefits to 44 million Americans. A new study uses a temporary increase in the monthly SNAP benefits provided to beneficiaries to analyze the relationship between nutrition assistance and Medicaid usage and expenditures. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act temporarily increased monthly SNAP benefits by a minimum of 13.6 percent per SNAP household in April 2009. In November 2013 the increase was suspended. The researchers found the 2009-2013 SNAP increase was associated with reduced hospital admissions equaling $26.5 billion in reduced Medicaid expenditures. Furthermore, when SNAP benefit levels returned to pre-April 2009 levels, expenditures over the next 14 months increased by $6.4 billion. These findings provide more evidence of the link between social factors and health outcomes and suggest policymakers should consider the effects of changes to public nutrition programs beyond the immediate program boundaries. Full study here.
Citation: Sonik, R. A. (2018). Inpatient Medicaid Usage and Expenditure Patterns After Changes in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Benefit Levels. Preventing chronic disease, 15.