Objective: To determine whether food insecurity, limited or uncertain food access owing to cost, is associated with greater health care expenditures.
Data source/study setting: Nationally representative sample of the civilian noninstitutionalized population of the United States (2011 National Health Interview Survey [NHIS] linked to 2012-2013 Medication Expenditure Panel Survey [MEPS]).
Study design: Longitudinal retrospective cohort.
Data collection/extraction methods: A total of 16,663 individuals underwent assessment of food insecurity, using the 10-item adult 30-day food security module, in the 2011 NHIS. Their total health care expenditures in 2012 and 2013 were recorded in MEPS. Expenditure data were analyzed using zero-inflated negative binomial regression and adjusted for age, gender, race/ethnicity, education, income, insurance, and residence area.
Principal findings: Fourteen percent of individuals reported food insecurity, representing 41,616,255 Americans. Mean annualized total expenditures were $4,113 (standard error $115); 9.2 percent of all individuals had no health care expenditures. In multivariable analyses, those with food insecurity had significantly greater estimated mean annualized health care expenditures ($6,072 vs. $4,208, p < .0001), an extra $1,863 in health care expenditure per year, or $77.5 billion in additional health care expenditure annually.
Conclusions: Food insecurity was associated with greater subsequent health care expenditures. Future studies should determine whether food insecurity interventions can improve health and reduce health care costs.
Keywords: Food insecurity; cardiovascular disease; diabetes, cardiovascular disease; health expenditures; hypertension; socioeconomic status.
© Health Research and Educational Trust.