Managing a health condition can be difficult. And when you aren’t sure how or when you will get your next meal, focusing on your health can feel next to impossible.
For many of our members, barriers such as lack of income or an inability to access healthy foods makes it difficult to put nutritious meals on the table. And for others who are recovering at home or are caregiving for another person, cooking healthy meals at home can become overwhelming. These barriers, which are often a result of disparities, increase a person’s risk for conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer, which only exacerbates their health conditions.
Since 2017, Mom’s Meals has served more than 11 million meals to 80,000 UnitedHealthcare members. Through the program, vulnerable adults — including eligible recipients on Medicaid — can get fully prepared, nutritious refrigerated meals delivered to their home. And because the program delivers to any location in the United States, including remote and rural areas, the program is accessible to all eligible members, regardless of location.
Supporting members recovering at home
Mom’s Meals plays a supporting role for individuals returning home after receiving care. These individuals, while no longer requiring hospital or facility care, often need support as they manage their condition, rest and recover. Studies have shown that programs like Mom’s Meals can be attributed to a reduced rate in hospital readmissions. In fact, combining meal delivery with case manager interaction, such as UnitedHealthcare Community & State touchpoints, lowers 30-day hospital readmissions. And one Medicaid plan has found that members who use Mom’s Meals for 90 days have a 45% drop in readmission.
With each serving cooked by a professional chef in tandem with a certified dietician, meals can be customized for an individual’s dietary needs. For example, members who need low-sodium options, are diabetic or require gluten-free or pureed options can all sign up for the program and receive meals that fit within their dietary restrictions or needs. And with more than 50 menu options, the program gives people the choice to select foods they truly want to eat.
For many eligible members, accessing food during COVID-19 has been difficult — especially for those living with a high risk of experiencing complications should they contract the virus. For these individuals, having healthy meals delivered ensures that they have access to nutritious meals without needing to leave their home, ultimately limiting their risk and improving their ability to recover.
Member success story
Jane,* a member in her mid-30s, tested positive for COVID-19 during the delivery of her baby. Prior to delivery, Jane was challenged by hypertension, increasing her risk of pre-eclampsia as a new mom. Jane also faced food insecurity and initially did not attend postpartum visits. A UnitedHealthcare Community & State care manager referred Jane for both a food box delivery through the health plan and additional meal delivery from Mom’s Meals for her entire household, including her husband and four children. Jane received her Mom’s Meals box within five days, and a short time later she attended a follow-up telehealth postpartum visit with her baby’s delivering physician.
Mom’s Meals supports caregivers
For caregivers like Jim Pfander, the convenience of food boxes has helped simplify his daily routine so he can focus on other household needs and care for his wife, who has Alzheimer’s dementia. AARP estimates that family caregivers contribute more than $470 billion in unpaid contributions in a single year. This means that these individuals are a half-trillion dollar unpaid workforce. Programs like Mom’s Meals are one way we can continue to support them as they fill this vital care gap in the health care system.
Ongoing partnership with Mom’s Meals
When a person is facing food insecurity, or is struggling to cook meals because of their health condition or the needs of another in their household, it can be difficult to focus on anything else — making it even more challenging to manage their condition or disability. Through Mom’s Meals’ long-term services and supports/community-based services program, our clinical administrative coordinators and care teams are able to directly connect UnitedHealthcare members to healthy foods.
By continuing to partner with Mom’s Meals and other meal delivery programs funded through Medicaid waivers and other government-funded nutrition programs, we can help members stay in their homes longer as they recover and manage their conditions.
*For the purposes of this blog, Jane has been used as a false name and is not the true name of the member.